Cardiac emboli are important causes of (recurrent) ischaemic stroke. Aorta atherosclerosis might also be associated with an increased risk of stroke recurrence. This study aimed to evaluate the yield and clinical implications of CT-angiography (CTA) of the heart and aorta in the diagnostic workup of transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ischaemic stroke.
CTA of the heart and aortic arch was performed in TIA/ischaemic stroke patients, in addition to routine diagnostic workup. Occurrence of cardioembolic (CE) risk sources and complex aortic plaques were assessed. Implications of cardiac CTA for therapeutic management were evaluated RESULTS: Sixty-seven patients were included (TIA n = 33, ischaemic stroke n = 34) with a mean age of 68 years (range 51-89) and median NIHSS of 0 (interquartile range 0-2). CE risk sources were detected in 29 (43%) patients. An intracardiac thrombus was present in 2 patients (3%; TIA 0%; ischaemic stroke 6%). Medium/low-risk CE sources included mitral annular calcification (9%), aortic valve calcification (18%) and patent foramen ovale (18%). Complex aortic plaque was identified in 16 patients (24%). In two patients with an intracardiac thrombus, therapeutic management changed from antiplatelet to oral anticoagulation.
CTA of the heart and aorta has a high yield for detection of embolic risk sources in TIA/ischaemic stroke, with clinical consequences for 6% of ischaemic stroke patients. Implementation of CTA of the heart and aorta in the acute stroke setting seems valuable, but cost-effectiveness of this approach remains to be determined.
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