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OBJECTIVES: In this study we define the probability of vascular abnormality in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) territory according to the extent of ischaemic change seen using computed tomography (CT). We assessed the sensitivity and specificity of the hyperdense middle cerebral artery (HMCA) and the "dot" sign using magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). METHODS: Patients presenting with ischaemic stroke had a CT scan (<6 h) prior to MRI (<7 h). A quantitative CT scoring system (ASPECTS) was applied to CT and diffusion weighted images (DWI) at baseline and follow up (24 h) by five independent observers. The presence of HMCA and the MCA "dot" sign was also evaluated. An expert reader assessed the 3D time of flight (TOF) MRA in the anterior circulation for areas of decreased vascular signal in the MCA territory, with an absent signal taken to represent severely reduced or absent flow. RESULTS: A total of 100 consecutive patients had baseline CT and MR scans. The median NIHSS was 9. The median CT ASPECTS was 8 and equalled the median DWI ASPECTS. There were a total of 10 HMCA and 19 MCA "dot" signs, with four patients having both HMCA and "dot" signs. A total of 47 MRA flow signal abnormalities were observed in the anterior circulation. CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of accessible neurovascular imaging, the extent of CT ischaemia (ASPECTS) is a strong predictor of vascular occlusion. The CT hyperdense artery signs have a high positive predictive value but low negative predictive value.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date





1426 - 1430


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Brain Ischemia, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery, Magnetic Resonance Angiography, Male, Middle Aged, Predictive Value of Tests, Sensitivity and Specificity, Tomography, X-Ray Computed