Intracranial aneurysms: CT angiography and MR angiography for detection prospective blinded comparison in a large patient cohort

Radiology. 2001 Jun;219(3):739-49. doi: 10.1148/radiology.219.3.r01ma16739.


Purpose: To compare computed tomographic (CT) angiography and magnetic resonance (MR) angiography with intraarterial digital subtraction angiography (DSA) in the detection of intracranial aneurysms.

Materials and methods: One hundred forty-two patients underwent intraarterial DSA to detect aneurysms. CT angiography, three-dimensional time-of-flight MR angiography, and intraarterial DSA were performed contemporaneously. Film hard-copy images and maximum intensity projection reconstructions of the CT angiograms and MR angiograms were reviewed at different times.

Results: The accuracy per patient for the best observer was 0.87 at CT angiography and 0.85 at MR angiography. The accuracy per aneurysm for the best observer was 0.73 at CT angiography and 0.67 at MR angiography. Differences between readers and modalities were not significant. Interobserver agreement was good: kappa value of 0.73 for CT angiography and of 0.74 for MR angiography. The sensitivity for detection of aneurysms smaller than 5 mm was 0.57 for CT angiography and 0.35 for MR angiography compared with 0.94 and 0.86, respectively, for detection of aneurysms 5 mm or larger. The accuracy of both CT angiography and MR angiography was lower for detection of internal carotid artery aneurysms compared with that at other sites. With low observer confidence, the likelihood of correct interpretation was significantly poorer.

Conclusion: CT angiography and MR angiography have limited sensitivity in the detection of small aneurysms but good interobserver agreement. There is no significant difference in diagnostic performance between the noninvasive modalities.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnosis*
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*