CT diagnosis of non-traumatic subarachnoid haemorrhage in patients with brain edema

Eur J Radiol. 1998 Oct;28(3):222-5. doi: 10.1016/s0720-048x(97)00162-9.


The aim of the study is to prove, retrospectively, that it is unlikely that the computerized tomography (CT) diagnosis of subarachnoid haemorrhage (SH) accompanies the CT diagnosis of generalized brain edema. A total of 100 comatose patients underwent CT of the brain. Of this number, 42 underwent an enhanced CT scan. In 26 patients, lumbar puncture was also performed. A control group of ten patients diagnosed with headache and having a normal CT scan underwent NECT and ECT. Measurements of the white and gray matter density in Hounsfield units (HU) were performed in all 110 cases, including the controls. The brain tissue density and the difference between the densities of the white and gray matter were lower in the cases with brain edema than in the controls. The data values were statistically significant. Small cerebral ventricles, sulci and cisterns and small differences between white and gray matter measurements were observed in the CT scans of the brain edema cases. All 100 patients had CT diagnosis of brain edema and SH. There was no bloody or xanthochromic CSF in any of the 26 lumbar punctures performed. In the enhanced CT scans, there was poor or no filling of the lateral sinuses. The compression of the lateral sinuses by the edematous brain tissue most probably results in their stenosis or obstruction due to disturbed brain venous drainage which can mimic CT findings of SH.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Edema / diagnostic imaging*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Iothalamic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Contrast Media
  • Iothalamic Acid
  • ioxitalamic acid