When Can an Emergency CTA Be Dispensed with for TIA Patients?

Background: Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) and minor strokes are often precursors of a major stroke. Therefore, diagnostic work-up of the TIA is essential to reduce the patient’s risk of further ischemic events. Purpose: With the help of this retrospective study, we aim to determine for which TIA patients a CT angiography (CTA) is not immediately necessary in order to reduce radiation exposure and nephrotoxicity.

Material and Methods: Clinical and imaging data from patients who presented as an emergency case with a suspected diagnosis of TIA at a teaching hospital between January 2016 and December 2021 were evaluated. The included 1526 patients were divided into two groups—group 1, with major pathologic vascular findings in the CTA, and group 2, with minor vascular pathologies. Results: Out of 1821 patients with suspected TIA on admission, 1526 met the inclusion criteria. In total, 336 (22%) had major vascular pathologies on CTA, and 1190 (78%) were unremarkable. The majority of patients with major vascular pathologies were male and had a history of arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, TIA, atherosclerotic peripheral vascular disease, smoking, antiplatelet medication, had a lower duration of TIA symptoms, and had lower ABCD2 scores.

Conclusions: We were able to demonstrate a direct correlation between major CTA pathologies and a history of smoking, age, hyperlipidemia, history of peripheral arterial disease, and a history of stroke and TIA. We were able to prove that the ABCD2 score is even reciprocal to CTA pathology. This means that TIA patients without described risk factors do not immediately require a CTA and could be clarified in the course of treatment with ultrasound or MRI.


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