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Clin Radiol. 2014 Apr;69(4):350-6. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2013.11.002. Epub 2013 Dec 18.

Value of delayed MRI in angiogram-negative subarachnoid haemorrhage.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Neuroradiology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.
  • 3Department of Neurosurgery, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.



To assess the efficacy of delayed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in identifying a structural cause for angiogram-negative subarachnoid haemorrhage.


All patients presenting with spontaneous subarachnoid haemorrhage who had negative computed tomography (CT) angiography and catheter angiography between 2006 and 2012 were reviewed.


During the 6 year period, 1023 angiograms were performed for a new presentation of subarachnoid haemorrhage. Of these, 242 (23.7%) did not show a cause for the haemorrhage. A second catheter angiogram was performed in 48 patients, and aneurysms were identified in two patients. Of the remaining 240 patients, 131 underwent a subsequent MRI brain. One hundred and five (80.2%) MRI examinations were performed 4 or more weeks after angiography. In two patients, cavernomas were identified as the likely bleeding source. In both patients, the pattern of subarachnoid haemorrhage surrounding a small intraparenchymal haemorrhage on the initial CT suggested the diagnosis. Thirty-nine patients underwent MRI of the cervical spine, none of which identified a cause for the haemorrhage. None of the patients re-presented to our centre during the 6 year study period.


Delayed MRI following angiogram-negative subarachnoid haemorrhage has a low (1.5%) yield and is not routinely necessary. MRI may be useful to characterize the diagnosis in patients with clinical or radiological features of an underlying abnormality such as a cavernoma.

Copyright © 2013 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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