Giant Cerebral Aneurysms: Comparing CTA, MRA, and Digital Subtraction Angiography Assessments

J Neuroimaging. 2020 May;30(3):335-341. doi: 10.1111/jon.12712. Epub 2020 Apr 23.


Background and purpose: Comprehensive imaging characterization of the morphology and luminal patency of cerebral aneurysms are cornerstones of their successful treatment and subsequent appropriate management. Giant cerebral aneurysms (GCAs), a distinct subgroup of aneurysms, are defined by large size (≥ 25 mm in greatest diameter), complex blood flow dynamics, and a high risk of rupture. The purpose of this study is to explore compare multiple imaging modalities in the assessment of GCAs.

Methods: This study retrospectively evaluated CT angiography (CTA), 3D time-of-flight (TOF) MR angiography (MRA), contrast-enhanced MRA (CEMRA), and digital subtraction angiography (DSA) in characterizing GCAs in 21 patients.

Results: Aneurysm size ranged from 26 to 58 mm (mean 31.3 ± 12.2) and 18/21 (85.7%) had intraluminal thrombus. No significant difference was found between the aneurysmal sizes of any two modalities regarding comparisons of CTA, 3D TOFMRA, and CEMRA. However, there were significant differences in the aneurysmal patency visibility grade between CTA versus TOFMRA and CTA versus CEMRA. Moreover, the patent luminal size measured on CTA was significantly larger than DSA.

Conclusions: CTA, 3D TOFMRA, and CEMRA are equivalent in the delineation of size of GCAs. Nevertheless, 3D TOFMRA and CEMRA seem to be inferior to CTA in demonstrating luminal size/patency, likely because of the signal loss resulting from the presence of intraluminal thrombus and flow turbulence. Moreover, CTA is superior to DSA in determining lumen patency in GCAs, probably due to CTA's multipass-related luminal enhancement while DSA general fills the lesion via the first pass of enhancement or soon thereafter. In addition, CTA may also better demonstrate intraluminal thrombus, adjacent anatomical structures, and calcified rims.

Keywords: 3D TOFMRA; CTA; DSA; Giant cerebral aneurysm; contrast-enhanced MRA (CEMRA).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction / methods*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Angiography / methods
  • Computed Tomography Angiography / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies