Blunt cerebrovascular injuries (BCVI) are rare but potentially devastating injuries, particularly if the diagnosis is delayed. Only four-vessel cerebral angiography (FVCA) has been shown to be adequately sensitive and specific as a screening tool for BCVI but is resource-intensive and invasive. Computed tomography (CT) angiography has emerged as a possible alternative, but its accuracy has been poor, particularly for low-grade injuries. Recent advances in CT technology, particularly the use of a multi-detector array for image acquisition should improve the accuracy of this technique. This study is the first reported experience of the role of the 16-slice multi- detector CT scanner in screening for BCVI.
From January 2, 2003 to October 31, 2004, all patients who met predefined screening criteria were screened for blunt injury to the carotid (BCI) and vertebral (BVI) arteries with a 16-slice multi-detector CT
scanner with angiographic reconstruction (CTA). If CTA was positive or equivocal for BCVI, FVCA was performed as a confirmatory test. If CTA was negative, no further diagnostic studies were performed.
There were 435 patients who met criteria and were screened with CTA. Of these, 25 injuries were identified in 24 patients for an incidence of BCVI of 1.2% (24/2023) among all blunt admissions (BTA) and 5.5% (24/435) among screened patients (SP). This was increased compared with the four-slice era (0.38% BTA, 2.4% SP, p
< 0.01). No patient with a negative CTA was subsequently identified as having, or developed neurologic symptoms attributable to a missed BCVI.
Sixteen-slice multi-detector CT
angiography is an excellent tool to screen for BCVI and detects all clinically significant injuries. The detected incidence of BCVI increased more than threefold with the 16-slice scanner when compared with the four-slice scanner. This demonstrates a clear technological improvement in our ability to screen for these injuries.