CT Angiography of Intracranial Aneurysms: A Focus on Postprocessing1


Bernd F. Tomandl, MD, Niels C. Köstner, Miriam Schempershofe, Walter J. Huk, MD, Christian Strauss, MD, Lars Anker, MD and Peter Hastreiter, PhD

Computed tomographic (CT) angiography is a well-known tool for detection of intracranial aneurysms and the planning of therapeutic intervention. Despite a wealth of existing studies and an increase in image quality due to use of multi-section CT and increasingly sophisticated pos-tprocessing tools such as direct volume rendering, CT angiography has still not replaced digital subtraction angiography as the standard of reference for detection of intracranial aneurysms. One reason may be that CT angiography is still not a uniformly standardized method, particularly with regard to image post-processing. Several methods for two- and three-dimensional visualization can be used: multiplanar reformation, maximum intensity projection, shaded surface display, and direct volume rendering. Pitfalls of CT angiography include lack of visibility of small arteries, difficulty differentiating the infundibular dilatation at the origin of an artery from an aneurysm, the kissing vessel artifact, demonstration of venous structures that can simulate aneurysms, inability to identify thrombosis and calcification on three-dimensional images, and beam hardening artifacts produced by aneurysm clips. Finally, an algorithm for the safe and useful application of CT angiography in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage has been developed, which takes into account the varying quality of equipment and software at different imaging centers.