Utility of diagnostic cerebral angiography in the management of suspected central nervous system vasculitis

Stephanie H. Chen, Samir Sur, Shaina Sedighim, Anelia Kassi, Dileep Yavagal, Eric Peterson, Robert M. Starke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Vasculitis of the central nervous system is a rare and poorly understood disease of the brain and spinal cord. Cerebral angiography is the radiological gold standard for diagnosis in patients with compatible clinical findings. However, advances in the quality of noninvasive neuroimaging techniques of cerebral and spinal vasculature such as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)and computed tomography angiography (CTA)may obviate the need for invasive catheter angiography. We reviewed our institutional experience at Jackson Memorial Hospital between 2011 and 2016 to assess the utility of performing a cerebral digital subtraction angiogram (DSA)in the management of suspected vasculitis. In 16 (59%)of the 27 patients who underwent both noninvasive imaging and DSA, neither imaging studies showed any evidence of vasculitis. Despite these negative studies, 2 patients were treated empirically with immunosuppressants based on clinical symptoms and laboratory findings. 10 (37%)patients demonstrated irregularities on MRA and findings were confirmed by DSA in 6 of these patients. All 6 of these patients were treated, however, 2 of the 4 patients with abnormal MRA and normal DSA were also started on immunosuppressive therapy despite negative DSA. In conclusion, invasive catheter-based angiography may be of limited benefit in the diagnosis and management of PCNSV when considered in the context of clinical and laboratory findings and MRA or CTA results. Further large studies are necessary to determine whether non-invasive imaging can replace DSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-100
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • CNS vasculitis
  • CTA
  • DSA
  • Diagnosis
  • Diagnostic angiography
  • Imaging
  • MRA
  • Vasculitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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