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Predicting Intracerebral Hemorrhage Growth With the Spot Sign


Background and purpose

Hematoma expansion after acute intracerebral hemorrhage is common and is associated with early deterioration and poor clinical outcome. The computed tomographic angiography (CTA) spot sign is a promising predictor of expansion; however, frequency and predictive values are variable across studies, possibly because of differences in onset-to-CTA time. We performed a patient-level meta-analysis to define the relationship between onset-to-CTA time and frequency and predictive ability of the spot sign.


We completed a systematic review for studies of CTA spot sign and hematoma expansion. We subsequently pooled patient-level data on the frequency and predictive values for significant hematoma expansion according to 5 predefined categorized onset-to-CTA times. We calculated spot-sign frequency both as raw and frequency-adjusted rates.


Among 2051 studies identified, 12 met our inclusion criteria. Baseline hematoma volume, spot-sign status, and time-to-CTA were available for 1176 patients, and 1039 patients had follow-up computed tomographies for hematoma expansion analysis. The overall spot sign frequency was 26%, decreasing from 39% within 2 hours of onset to 13% beyond 8 hours (P<0.001). There was a significant decrease in hematoma expansion in spot-positive patients as onset-to-CTA time increased (P=0.004), with positive predictive values decreasing from 53% to 33%.


The frequency of the CTA spot sign is inversely related to intracerebral hemorrhage onset-to-CTA time. Furthermore, the positive predictive value of the spot sign for significant hematoma expansion decreases as time-to-CTA increases. Our results offer more precise risk stratification for patients with acute intracerebral hemorrhage and will help refine clinical prediction rules for intracerebral hemorrhage expansion.

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