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Diagnostic performance of computed tomography-digital subtraction angiography and conventional magnetic resonance imaging for evaluating the vascularity of osseous spinal tumors.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Patients with hypervascular spinal tumors may have severe blood loss during tumor resection, which increases the risks of perioperative morbidity and mortality. However, the preoperative evaluation of tumor vascularity may be challenging; moreover, the reliability of the data obtained in conventional preoperative noninvasive imaging is debatable. In this study, we compared conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and subtraction computed tomography angiography (CTA) in terms of their performance in vascularity evaluation. The catheter digital subtraction angiography (DSA) technique was used as a reference standard.

METHODS: This study included 123 consecutive patients with spinal tumor who underwent subtraction CTA, catheter DSA, and subsequent surgery between October 2015 and October 2021. Data regarding qualitative and semiquantitative subtraction CTA parameters and conventional MRI signs were collected for comparison with tumor vascularity graded through catheter DSA. The diagnostic performance of qualitative CTA, quantitative CTA, and conventional MRI in assessing spinal tumor vascularity was analyzed.

RESULTS: Qualitative subtraction CTA was the best noninvasive imaging modality in terms of diagnostic performance (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC], 0.95). Quantitative CTA was relatively inferior (AUROC, 0.87). MRI results had low reliability (AUROC, 0.51 to 0.59). Intratumoral hemorrhage and prominent foraminal venous plexus were found to be the specific signs for hypervascularity (specificity 93.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: Qualitative subtraction CTA offers the highest diagnostic value in evaluating spinal tumor vascularity, compared to quantitative CTA and MRI. Although conventional MRI may not be a reliable approach, certain MRI signs may have high specificity, which may be crucial for assessing spinal tumor vascularity.

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