The use of 4D-CTA in the diagnostic work-up of brain arteriovenous malformations

Neuroradiology. 2012 Feb;54(2):123-31. doi: 10.1007/s00234-011-0864-0. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


Introduction: We aimed to evaluate the use of time-resolved whole-head CT angiography (4D-CTA) in patients with an untreated arteriovenous malformation of the brain (bAVM), as demonstrated by catheter angiography (DSA).

Methods: Seventeen patients with a DSA-proven bAVM were enrolled. These were subjected to 4D-CTA imaging using a 320 detector row CT scanner. Using a standardized scoring sheet, all studies were analyzed by a panel of three readers. This panel was blind to the DSA results at the time of reading the 4D-CTA.

Results: 4D-CTA detected all bAVMs. With regard to the Spetzler-Martin grade, 4D-CTA disagreed with DSA in only one case, where deep venous drainage was missed. Further discrepancies between 4D-CTA and DSA analyses included underestimation of the nidus size in small lesions (four cases), misinterpretation of a feeding vessel (one case), misinterpretation of indirect feeding through pial collaterals (three cases) and oversight of mild arterial enlargement (two cases). 4D-CTA correctly distinguished low-flow from high-flow lesions and detected dural/transosseous feeding (one case), venous narrowing (one case) and venous pouches (nine cases).

Conclusion: In this series, 4D-CTA was able to detect all bAVMs. Although some angioarchitectural details were missed or misinterpreted when compared to DSA, 4D-CTA evaluation was sufficiently accurate to diagnose the shunt and classify it. Moreover, 4D-CTA adds cross-sectional imaging and perfusion maps, helpful in treatment planning. 4D-CTA appears to be a valuable new adjunct in the non-invasive diagnostic work-up of bAVMs and their follow-up when managed conservatively.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods*
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Four-Dimensional Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnostic imaging*
  • Male


  • Contrast Media