New Technology Spots Aneurysms Faster, Safer

Computed tomography angiography improves on standard angiogram, study suggests

TUESDAY, April 25, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A new technique called computed tomography angiography (CTA) is just as sensitive as conventional cerebral angiogram for detecting brain aneurysms, but less risky, experts say.

CTA is performed by injecting a contrast agent, similar to that used in conventional angiogram, into the patient.

The study, reported Monday at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons annual meeting, in San Francisco, included 179 patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, a kind of aneurysm.

CTA detected one or more aneurysms in 166 of the patients. The results were confirmed by surgery or conventional angiogram. In 13 patients, CTA did not detect any aneurysms. However, conventional angiogram produced the same results.

Conventional angiogram did detect one small incidental aneurysm that was not responsible for subarachnoid hemorrhage. This aneurysm was not initially detected on CTA, but further review of the CTA images revealed the lesion.

The study authors believe CTA has many benefits:

  • Patients don't need to be transferred to an angiographic suite.
  • No additional personnel are required.
  • Imaging is completed within one minute.
  • There is no risk of ischemic stroke from the technology.

The risks associated with CTA are the same as those with conventional angiogram -- possible allergic reaction to the contrast agent and potential damage to the kidneys caused by the contrast agent.

"This method enables an accurate identification of the exact size, location, and configuration of the lesion within 10 minutes of diagnosing a patient with subarachnoid hemorrhage, as opposed to the hours that it can take to transport the patient to the angiographic suite, prepare the patient, and then perform a full four-vessel angiogram that may itself take 30 to 60 minutes, or even longer," study author Dr. Charles J. Prestigiacomo said in a prepared statement.

Further studies are needed to determine the cost effectiveness of CTA.

More information

Washington University in St. Louis has more about subarachnoid hemorrhage.

SOURCE: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, news release, April 24, 2006
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