What is the role of CT scanning in the diagnosis of vertebrobasilar stroke?

Updated: Aug 09, 2021
  • Author: Vladimir Kaye, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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CT scanning usually is the first imaging study performed, because it has a sensitivity of more than 95% when used in the identification intra-axial or extra-axial hemorrhage within the first 24 hours of onset. [19, 20] Other helpful findings include evidence of infarcts in the thalamus or occipital lobes (implicating involvement of the rostral basilar artery) and evidence that a hyperdense basilar artery is present (suggesting a probable occlusion). [21, 22]

Spiral CT angiography is used further to identify occluded and dolichoectatic vessels. [23, 24]

The disadvantages of CT scanning include a low sensitivity for early ischemia and the presence of significant artifacts caused by the bony structures surrounding the brainstem and cerebellum.

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