In this research, the authors sought to characterize the incidence and extent of cerebrovascular lesions after penetrating brain injury in a civilian population and to compare the diagnostic value of head computed tomography angiography (CTA) and digital subtraction angiography (DSA) in their diagnosis.
This was a prospective multicenter cohort study of patients with penetrating brain injury due to any mechanism presenting at two academic medical centers over a 3-year period (May 2020 to May 2023). All patients underwent both CTA and DSA. The sensitivity and specificity of CTA was calculated, with DSA considered the gold standard. The number of DSA studies needed to identify a lesion requiring treatment that had not been identified on CTA was also calculated.
A total of 73 patients were included in the study, 33 of whom had at least 1 penetrating cerebrovascular injury, for an incidence of 45.2%. The injuries included 13 pseudoaneurysms, 11 major arterial occlusions, 9 dural venous sinus occlusions, 8 dural arteriovenous fistulas, and 6 carotid cavernous fistulas. The sensitivity of CTA was 36.4%, and the specificity was 85.0%. Overall, 5.6 DSA studies were needed to identify a lesion requiring treatment that had not been identified with CTA.
Cerebrovascular injury is common after penetrating brain injury, and CTA alone is insufficient to diagnosis these injuries. Patients with penetrating brain injuries should routinely undergo DSA.