Computed Tomographic Angiography for the Evaluation of Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Shaun D. Carstairs, David A. Tanen, Timothy D. Duncan, Olaf B. Nordling, John E. Wanebo, Thomas R. Paluska, Nicholas Theodore, Robert H. Riffenburgh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objectives: Computed tomography (CT) followed by lumbar puncture (LP) is currently the criterion standard for diagnosing subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in the emergency department (ED); however, this is based on studies involving a limited number of patients. The authors sought to assess the ability of CT angiography (CTA), a new diagnostic modality, in conjunction with CT/LP to detect SAH. Methods: Consecutive patients presenting to the ED with symptoms concerning for SAH were approached. All patients had an intravenous catheter placed and underwent a noncontrast head CT followed by CTA. Patients whose CT did not reveal evidence of SAH or other pathology underwent LP in the ED. CTAs were read within 24 hours by a neuroradiologist blinded to the patient's history. Results: A total of 131 patients were approached, 116 were enrolled, and 106 completed the study. In six of 116 patients (5.1%), aneurysm was found on CTA with normal CT and positive findings on LP; three had a positive CTA with normal CT and LP findings (one of which had a negative cerebral angiogram), and there was one false-positive CTA. Follow-up of all 131 patients showed no previously undiagnosed intracranial pathology. In this patient population, 4.3% (5/116) were ultimately found to have an SAH and/or aneurysm. Conclusions: In this pilot study, CTA was found to be useful in the detection of cerebral aneurysms and may be useful in the diagnosis of aneurysmal SAH. A larger multicenter study would be useful to confirm these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-492
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CT angiography
  • SAH
  • aneurysm
  • computed tomography
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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