SA Journal of Radiology

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Comparing computed tomography (CT) angiography versus digital subtraction angiography for the screening of traumatic pseudoaneurysms in transcranial stab injuries

Susan W. Karanja, Rohen Harrichandparsad, Duncan Royston, Samson M. Motebejane, Ayesha Mitha


Introduction: Transcranial stab injuries among the civilian population in South Africa are more common than in the West. In a study conducted in Durban, South Africa, in 1992, transcranial stab injuries accounted for 6% of all head injuries admitted to the neurosurgical unit. Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) has been the gold standard for diagnosing traumatic pseudoaneurysms. Its use as a screening tool is, however, limited and carries risks of neurological deficits. We postulate that the newer generation computed tomography (CT) scanner would serve as a better screening tool for traumatic pseudoaneurysms following transcranial stab injuries with the blade removed, provided the image quality is good.

Methods: All patients admitted with a stab to the head with total calvarial penetration from September 2014 to January 2016 were included in the study. Those with a retained metallic fragment, incomplete imaging protocols, no penetration of the blade into the brain parenchyma or other causes of penetrating head injury were not included in the study. A retrospective chart review was then done on a prospectively recruited patient cohort. All CT angiograms were performed using a dual source CT scanner.

Results: A total of 26 patients met the inclusion criteria. There were seven vascular injuries identified on DSA: three traumatic pseudoaneurysms and four vessel cut-offs. One traumatic pseudoaneurysm was missed on computed tomography angiography (CTA) because of a poor quality scan. The average sensitivity and specificity of CTA compared with DSA was 67% and 95.5%, respectively. Negative predictive value for CTA was 99.5%.

Conclusion: A good quality CTA carried out on the newer generation CT scanners allows for use of CTA as a screening tool for patients with a transcranial stab injury and no retained blade or metallic foreign bodies.

AJOL African Journals Online