Volume-rendered helical computerized tomography angiography in the detection and characterization of intracranial aneurysms

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  • 1 Departments of Neurosurgery and Radiological Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California
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Object. The goal of this study was to evaluate the utility of volume-rendered helical computerized tomography (CT) angiography in patients with intracranial aneurysms. The authors compared the abilities of CT angiography, digital subtraction (DS) angiography, and three-dimensional time-of-flight magnetic resonance (MR) angiography to characterize aneurysms.

Methods. Helical CT angiography was performed in 45 patients with suspected intracranial aneurysms by using volume-rendered multiplanar reformatted (MPR) images. Digital subtraction angiography was performed using biplane angiography. These studies and those performed using MR angiography were interpreted in a blinded manner. Two neurosurgeons and two interventional neuroradiologists independently graded the utility of CT angiography with respect to aneurysm characterization.

Fifty-five aneurysms were detected. Of these, 48 were evaluated for treatment. Computerized tomography angiography was judged to be superior to both DS and MR angiography in the evaluation of the arterial branching pattern at the aneurysm neck (compared with DS angiography, p = 0.001, and with MR angiography, p = 0.007), aneurysm neck geometry (compared with DS angiography, p = 0.001, and with MR angiography, p = 0.001), arterial branch incorporation (compared with DS angiography, p = 0.021, and with MR angiography, p = 0.001), mural thrombus (compared with DS angiography, p < 0.001), and mural calcification (compared with DS angiography, p < 0.001, and with MR angiography, p < 0.001). For surgical cases, CT angiography had a significant impact on treatment path (p = 0.001), operative approach (p = 0.001), and preoperative clip selection (p < 0.001). For endovascular cases, CT angiography had an impact on treatment path (p < 0.02), DS angiography study time (p = 0.01), contrast agent usage (p = 0.01), and coil selection (p = 0.02). Computerized tomography angiography provided unique information about 39 (81%) of 48 aneurysms, especially when compared with DS angiography (p = 0.003). The sensitivity and specificity of CT angiography compared with DS angiography was 1. The sensitivity and specificity of CT and DS angiography studies compared with operative findings were 0.98 and 1, respectively.

Conclusions. Computerized tomography angiography is equal to DS angiography in the detection and superior to DS angiography and MR angiography in the characterization of brain aneurysms. Information contained in volume-rendered CT angiography images had a significant impact on case management.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: J. Pablo Villablanca, M.D., Department of Radiological Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Box 951721, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90095. email: pablo@ucla.edu.
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