Purpose: The primary purpose of this project was to study the anatomical characteristics of intracerebral haematoma (ICH) in order to determine features that may negate the need for angiography in some patients.
Material and methods: The study was prospective and designed to investigate the underlying cause of non-traumatic ICH in 100 cases assessed by conventional angiography. Patients were excluded if there was a history of trauma or known pre-existing brain abnormality. All patients were examined with CT and angiography within 4 days of the ictus.
Results: Ruptured aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) were diagnosed on the initial angiogram in 49% of cases: 27 AVMs and 22 aneurysms. One case of superior sagittal sinus thrombosis was also detected. Vascular abnormalities were found most frequently in the under-40 age group and in cases in which subarachnoid haemorrhage, intraventricular haemorrhage or extracerebral haematoma accompanied the ICH. The temporal lobe was the most frequent anatomical location (37%). When a temporal lobe haematoma extended into the Sylvian fissure from the inferior pole of the temporal lobe or when it was associated with subarachnoid haemorrhage, structural abnormalities were found in over 90% of cases.
Conclusions: There are groups of patients with ICH in whom the CT features are highly suggestive of AVM or aneurysm rupture. If the initial angiography is negative in these cases, careful follow up by repeat angiography and/or MR imaging is essential. However, potentially treatable abnormalities cannot be excluded with certainty by the distribution of the haematoma on CT alone, even if there is a history of pre-existing hypertension.