Comparison of computed tomographic angiography with digital subtraction angiography in the diagnosis of cerebral aneurysms: a meta-analysis

Neurosurgery. 2003 Mar;52(3):624-31; discussion 630-1. doi: 10.1227/01.neu.0000047895.82857.eb.


Objective: To compare a novel diagnostic radiological technique, computed tomographic angiography (CTA), with the standard method, namely digital subtraction angiography (DSA), in the diagnosis of cerebral aneurysms.

Methods: A comprehensive search of the world literature on CTA was performed. Articles that reported on prospective comparisons of CTA and DSA in the evaluation of patients suspected of harboring cerebral aneurysms were selected for data extraction. Suitable statistical methods were applied to the extracted data for meta-analysis.

Results: Twenty-one references met the criteria for use in the meta-analysis. Unweighted calculations based on data for 1251 patients resulted in a sensitivity of 0.933 (93.3%; range, 75.4-100%) and a specificity of 0.878 (87.8%; range, 0-100%). When the studies were weighted for the number of patients in each study, the sensitivity decreased slightly, to 0.927 (92.7%), and the specificity decreased more substantially, to 0.772 (77.2%).

Conclusion: On the basis of this meta-analysis, DSA remains the standard method. However, many who use CTA have reported it to be as good as or better than DSA in the diagnosis and treatment of cerebral aneurysms, as well as being of less risk and discomfort to their patients and easier and less expensive to perform.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*