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J Clin Neurosci. 2013 Aug;20(8):1122-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 May 16.

Non-contrast 3D time-of-flight magnetic resonance angiography for visualization of intracranial aneurysms in patients with absolute contraindications to CT or MRI contrast.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


The preoperative evaluation of patients with intracranial aneurysms typically includes a contrast-enhanced vascular study, such as computed tomography angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or digital subtraction angiography. However, there are numerous absolute and relative contraindications to the administration of imaging contrast agents, including pregnancy, severe contrast allergy, and renal insufficiency. Evaluation of patients with contrast contraindications thus presents a unique challenge. We identified three patients with absolute contrast contraindications who presented with intracranial aneurysms. One patient was pregnant, while the other two had previous severe anaphylactic reactions to iodinated contrast. Because of these contraindications to intravenous contrast, we performed non-contrast time-of-flight MRA with 3D reconstruction (TOF MRA with 3DR) with maximum intensity projections and volume renderings as part of the preoperative evaluation prior to successful open surgical clipping of the aneurysms. In the case of one paraclinoid aneurysm, a high-resolution non-contrast CT scan was also performed to assess the relationship of the aneurysm to the anterior clinoid process. TOF MRA with 3DR successfully identified the intracranial aneurysms and adequately depicted the surrounding microanatomy. Intraoperative findings were as predicted by the preoperative imaging studies. The aneurysms were successfully clip-obliterated, and the patients had uneventful post-operative courses. These cases demonstrate that non-contrast imaging is a viable modality to assess intracranial aneurysms as part of the surgical planning process in patients with contrast contraindications. TOF MRA with 3DR, in conjunction with high-resolution non-contrast CT when indicated, provides adequate visualization of the microanatomy of the aneurysm and surrounding structures.


Aneurysm; Contrast; Intracranial; MRI; Pregnancy; Time of flight

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