Dual-Energy Computed Tomography in Stroke Imaging: Technical and Clinical Considerations of Virtual Noncontrast Images for Detection of the Hyperdense Artery Sign

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Abstract

Objective

The technical feasibility of virtual noncontrast (VNC) images from dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) for the detection of the hyperdense artery sign (HAS) in ischemic stroke patients was investigated.

Methods

True noncontrast (TNC) scans of 60 patients either with or without HAS (n = 30 each) were investigated. Clot presence and characteristics were assessed on VNC images from DECT angiography and compared with TNC images. Clot characterization included the level of confidence for diagnosing HAS, a qualitative clot burden score, and quantitative attenuation (Hounsfield unit [HU]) measurements.

Results

Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of VNC for diagnosing HAS were 97%, 90%, and 93%, respectively. No significant differences were found regarding the diagnostic confidence (P = 0.18) and clot burden score (P = 0.071). No significant HU differences were found among vessels with HAS in VNC (56 ± 7HU) and TNC (57 ± 8HU) (P = 0.691) images.

Conclusions

Virtual noncontrast images derived from DECT enable an accurate detection and characterization of HAS.

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