Major radiological outcomes of CTA head and neck performed for dizziness in a major academic Emergency Department

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Purpose: Routine head and neck CTAs (CTAhead+neck) performed for dizziness in the Emergency Department (ED) has steadily increased, but its clinical utility is still poorly elucidated. Our purpose was to assess the radiologic outcomes of CTAhead+neck in ED dizziness patients.Methods: ED dizziness patients with CTAhead+neck from January 2010 through November 2019 were retrospectively identified and further stratified into central vertigo (CV), peripheral vertigo (PV), and non-specific dizziness (NSD) groups by final clinical diagnoses. Findings on CTAhead+neck (vessel stenosis >50%, occlusion, dissection, and infarct), and infarct on subsequent MRI if performed, were assessed. Differences in imaging findings were analyzed using chi-square or Fisher's exact tests.Results: Of 867 dizziness patients, 88 were diagnosed with CV, 383 with PV, and 396 with NSD. On CTAhead+neck, 11.4% of all patients had posterior CTA findings, including posterior occlusions (4.2%), dissections (1.2%), and infarcts (2.3%). CV patients had more posterior circulation findings (31.8%) versus PV (9.9%) and NSD (8.3%) patients (both p < 0.01). 21.6% of CV patients had acute infarcts on CT versus none for PV and 0.03% for NSD patients (both p < 0.01). On MRI, 46.6% of CV patients had acute posterior circulation infarcts versus none for PV and 0.3% for NSD patients (p < 0.01).Conclusion: Diagnostic yield for CTAhead+neck for dizziness patients is low except in central vertigo patients which constitute only 1/10th of CTAs performed. Our single institution results support that CTAhead+neck is likely low-yield in patients with high clinical suspicion for PV or NSD and further studies are needed to test this hypothesis.

Keywords: CT angiogram; Dizziness; emergency department; posterior circulation stroke; vertigo.