Safety of Computed Tomographic Angiography in the Evaluation of Patients With Acute Stroke: A Single-Center Experience

Stroke. 2016 Aug;47(8):2045-50. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.013973. Epub 2016 Jun 30.


Background and purpose: Noncontrasted head computed tomography (NCHCT) has long been the standard of care for acute stroke imaging. New guidelines recommending advanced vascular imaging to identify eligible patients for endovascular therapy have renewed safety concerns on the use of contrast in the emergent setting without laboratory confirmation of renal function.

Methods: We compared computed tomographic angiography (CTA) versus NCHCT alone during acute stroke evaluation with focus on renal safety and timeliness of therapy delivery. We reviewed data on all emergency department patients for whom the Acute Stroke Intervention Team was activated between December 2013 and September 2014. Primary outcomes included acute kidney injury and change in serum creatinine from presentation to 24 to 48 hours (Δ serum creatinine [Cr]). We assessed therapy delay using door-to-CT and door-to-needle times.

Results: Of 289 patients requiring Acute Stroke Intervention Team activation, 157 received CTA and 132 NCHCT only. There was no difference between groups in mean Cr at 24 to 48 hours (1.06 CTA; 1.40 NCHCT; P=0.059), ΔCr (-0.07 CTA, -0.11 NCHCT, P=0.489), or rates of acute kidney injury (5 CTA, 7 NCHCT, P=0.422). There was no significant difference in mean intravenous tissue plasminogen activator treatment times (68.11 minutes CTA, 81.36 minutes NCHCT; P=0.577). In the 157 patients who underwent CTA, 16 (10.2%) vascular anomalies and 55 (35.0%) high-grade stenoses or occlusions were identified.

Conclusions: CTA acquisition during acute stroke evaluation was safe with regards to renal function and did not delay appropriate therapy delivery. Acute CTA acquisition offers additional clinical value in rapid identification of vascular abnormalities.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; cerebrovascular disorders; quality assurance, health care; stroke; tissue-type plasminogen activator.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Ischemia / blood
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy
  • Cerebral Angiography / adverse effects*
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / adverse effects*
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stroke / blood
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / drug therapy
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Creatinine
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator