The Utility of Computed Tomography Angiogram in Patients with Mild Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

Bryant C. Shannon, Peter Pruitt, Pierre Borczuk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) and traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage (tSAH) differ significantly in their mortality and management. Although computed tomography angiography (CTA) is critical to guide timely interventions in aSAH, it lacks recognized benefit in assessing tSAH. Despite this, CTA commonly is included in tSAH evaluation. Objective: Determine if any clinically significant cerebral aneurysms are identified on CTA in emergency department (ED) patients with a tSAH. Methods: Retrospective observational study of consecutive blunt head trauma patients ages ≥ 16 years with Glasgow Coma Scale score (GCS) ≥ 13 who presented to an academic ED (100,000 annual visits) over a 7-year period. Those included had a CT-diagnosed SAH and underwent head CTA. The primary endpoint was the detection of any clinically significant brain aneurysms. Results: There were 297 patients that met the inclusion criteria. Twenty-six patients (8.8%) had an incidental aneurysm discovered; one underwent elective outpatient intervention. Aneurysm-positive patients were more likely to be female (69.2% vs. 46.9%, p = 0.003), age 60 years or older (80.8% vs. 52.4%, p = 0.005), and be on anticoagulation (42.3% vs. 28.0%, p = 0.03). There were no differences between the aneurysm-positive and -negative patients with respect to GCS, history of hypertension, or mechanism of injury. Conclusions: In this 7-year retrospective chart review, CTA in patients with tSAH and GCS ≥ 13 did not reveal any clinically relevant cerebral aneurysms. One incidental aneurysm later underwent outpatient neurovascular intervention. In the absence of specific clinical concerns, CTA has minimal value in well-appearing patients with a tSAH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-465
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • cerebral aneurysm
  • computed tomography angiogram
  • head trauma
  • intercranial hemorrhage
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Utility of Computed Tomography Angiogram in Patients with Mild Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this