Background: Excluding a cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) through imaging is a frequent request in the emergency setting. This assessment often starts by an unenhanced brain computed tomography (CT).
Purpose: Re-evaluate the value of spontaneous hyperdensity of CVT on helical unenhanced brain CT.
Methods: Multicentric retrospective study on CVT probability based on visual assessment of spontaneous hyperdensity of cerebral venous system, performed by four blinded radiologists, individually then collectively, on a population including 14 helical unenhanced brain CTs with CVT and 102 unenhanced brain CTs without CVT (all confirmed by CT or magnetic resonance [MR] venography). Exclusion criteria: no DICOM image, symptoms >15 days, CVT indirect signs on unenhanced CT. A fifth radiologist set 768 regions of interest to measure and to compare the density within the normal venous sinuses and the CVTs.
Results: After consensus reading, sensitivity of this sign for CVT diagnosis was 100%, specificity 95.1%, and negative predictive value (NPV) 100%, with high individual NPV (99-100%). Area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve was 0.992 after consensus (0.976-0.986 individually). The spontaneous density was significantly different (P <0.05) between normal sinuses and CVTs, with a density >70 HU reported only within the CVTs, except for the horizontal part of the superior sagittal sinus (hSSS).
Conclusion: The dense triangle sign on helical unenhanced brain CT has an excellent NPV to exclude a sinus thrombosis during the first 2 weeks. However, we believe that visual assessment of spontaneous hyperdensity is not sufficient for the diagnosis of CVT, with possible false-positive of the hSSS on unenhanced CT.
Keywords: Density; intracranial thrombosis; magnetic resonance angiography; multidetector computed tomography; sinus thrombosis; venous thrombosis.
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