Background and Purpose-Emerging evidence demonstrating the high sensitivity of early brain computed tomography (CT) brings into question the necessity of always performing lumbar puncture after a negative CT in the diagnosis of spontaneous subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Our objective was to determine the sensitivity of brain CT using modern scanners (16-slice technology or greater) when performed within 6 hours of headache onset to exclude SAH in neurologically intact patients. Methods-After conducting a comprehensive literature search using Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Web of Science, and Scopus, we conducted a meta-analysis. We included original research studies of adults presenting with a history concerning for spontaneous SAH and who had noncontrast brain CT scan using a modern generation multidetector CT scanner within 6 hours of symptom onset. Our study adheres to the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses (PRISMA). Results-A total of 882 titles were reviewed and 5 articles met inclusion criteria, including an estimated 8907 patients. Thirteen had a missed SAH (incidence 1.46 per 1000) on brain CTs within 6 hours. Overall sensitivity of the CT was 0.987 (95% confidence intervals, 0.971-0.994) and specificity was 0.999 (95% confidence intervals, 0.993-1.0). The pooled likelihood ratio of a negative CT was 0.010 (95% confidence intervals, 0.003-0.034). Conclusions-In patients presenting with thunderclap headache and normal neurological examination, normal brain CT within 6 hours of headache is extremely sensitive in ruling out aneurysmal SAH.
- cerebrospinal fluid
- confidence intervals
- subarachnoid hemorrhage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing