Optimized Flat-Detector CT in Stroke Imaging: Ready for First-Line Use?

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2017;43(1-2):9-16. doi: 10.1159/000450727. Epub 2016 Oct 18.


Background: Using flat-detector CT (FD-CT) for stroke imaging has the advantage that both diagnostic imaging and endovascular therapy can be performed directly within the Angio Suite without any patient transfer and time delay. Thus, stroke management could be speeded up significantly, and patient outcome might be improved. But as precondition for using FD-CT as primary imaging modality, a reliable exclusion of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) has to be possible. This study aimed to investigate whether optimized native FD-CT, using a newly implemented reconstruction algorithm, may reliably detect ICH in stroke patients. Additionally, the potential to identify ischemic changes was evaluated.

Methods: Cranial FD-CT scans were obtained in 102 patients presenting with acute ischemic stroke (n = 32), ICH (n = 45) or transient ischemic attack (n = 25). All scans were reconstructed with a newly implemented half-scan cone-beam algorithm. Two experienced neuroradiologists, unaware of clinical findings, evaluated independently the FD-CTs screening for hemorrhage or ischemic signs. The findings were correlated to CT, and rater and inter-rater agreement was assessed.

Results: FD-CT demonstrated high sensitivity (95-100%) and specificity (100%) in detecting intracerebral and intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). Overall, interobserver agreement (κ = 0.92) was almost perfect and rater agreement to CT highly significant (r = 0.81). One infratentorial ICH and 10 or 11 of 22 subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAHs) were missed of whom 7 were perimesencephalic. The sensitivity for detecting acute ischemic signs was poor in blinded readings (0 or 25%, respectively).

Conclusions: Optimized FD-CT, using a newly implemented reconstruction algorithm, turned out as a reliable tool for detecting supratentorial ICH and IVH. However, detection of infratentorial ICH and perimesencephalic SAH is limited. The potential of FD-CT in detecting ischemic changes is poor in blinded readings. Thus, plain FD-CT seems insufficient as a standalone modality in acute stroke, but within a multimodal imaging approach primarily using the FD technology, native FD-CT seems capable to exclude reliably supratentorial hemorrhage. Currently, FD-CT imaging seems not yet ready for wide adoption, replacing regular CT, and should be reserved for selected patients. Furthermore, prospective evaluations are necessary to validate this approach in the clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis*
  • Brain Ischemia / therapy
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Cerebral Intraventricular Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Intraventricular Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / diagnostic imaging*
  • Stroke / therapy
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation*