Cerebral vasospasm in the first 2 weeks after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage is recognized as a major predictor of delayed cerebral ischemia. The routine screening for cerebral vasospasm with either transcranial Doppler or CT angiography has been advocated, although its diagnostic value has not yet been determined. Our study investigated the diagnostic accuracy of detecting vasospasm by transcranial Doppler and CT angiography for the prediction of delayed cerebral ischemia and functional outcome. Additionally, agreement between transcranial Doppler and CT angiography was determined.
Design: Prospective diagnostic accuracy study.
Settings: Neurocritical care unit and neurosurgical ward at a tertiary academic medical center.
Patients: Between 2013 and 2016, 59 consenting patients were included.
Intervention: Patients undergo both transcranial Doppler and CT angiography for detection of cerebral vasospasm on days 5 and 10 after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Delayed cerebral ischemia was defined as secondary neurologic deterioration, not explained otherwise. Unfavorable outcome was defined modified Rankin Scale > 2 at 6 months.
Measurements and Main Results: On transcranial Doppler, cerebral vasospasm was observed in 26 patients (45%). On CT angiography, vasospasm was observed in 54 patients (95%). The agreement between transcranial Doppler and CT angiography was 0.47. Delayed cerebral ischemia occurred in 16 patients (27%); unfavorable outcome in 12 patients (20%). Transcranial Doppler predicted delayed cerebral ischemia with a sensitivity of 0.44 (day 5) and 0.50 (day 10), with a specificity of 0.67 (day 5) and 0.57 (day 10). CT angiography predicted delayed cerebral ischemia with a sensitivity of 0.81 (day 5 and 10) and with a specificity of 0.070 (day 5) and 0.00 (day 10). The highest accuracy for predicting unfavorable outcome was on day 5 (0.61 for transcranial Doppler vs 0.27 for CT angiography).
Conclusion: The diagnostic accuracy of both CT angiography and transcranial Doppler for detection of cerebral vasospasm as well as prediction of delayed cerebral ischemia and functional outcome is limited. The agreement between CT angiography and transcranial Doppler is low.