Head computed tomography for prognostication of poor outcome in comatose patients after cardiac arrest and targeted temperature management

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INTRODUCTION: A multimodal approach to prognostication of outcome after cardiac arrest (CA) is recommended. Evidence for combinations of methods is low. In this post-hoc analysis we described findings on head computed tomography (CT) after CA. We also examined whether generalised oedema on CT alone or together with the biomarker Neuron-specific enolase (NSE) could predict poor outcome.

METHODS: Patients participating in the Target Temperature Management after out-of-hospital-cardiac-arrest-trial underwent CT based on clinical indications. Findings were divided into pre-specified categories according to local radiologists descriptions. Generalised oedema alone and in combination with peak NSE at either 48h or 72h was correlated with poor outcome at 6 months follow-up using the Cerebral Performance Category (CPC 3-5).

RESULTS: 356/939 (37.9%) of patients underwent head CT. Initial CT≤24h after CA was normal in 174/218 (79.8%), whilst generalised oedema was diagnosed in 21/218 (9.6%). Between days 1-7, generalised oedema was seen in 65/143 (45.5%), acute/subacute infarction in 27/143 (18.9%) and bleeding in 9/143 (6.3%). Overall, generalised oedema predicted poor outcome with 33.6% sensitivity (95%CI:28.1-39.5) and 98.4% specificity (95%CI:94.3-99.6), whilst peak NSE demonstrated sensitivities of 61.5-64.8% and specificity 95.7% (95%CI:89.5-98.4). The combination of peak NSE>38ng/l and generalised oedema on CT predicted poor outcome with 46.0% sensitivity (95%CI:36.5-55.8) with no false positives. NSE was significantly higher in patients with generalised oedema.

CONCLUSION: In this study, generalised oedema was more common >24h≤7d after CA. The combination of CT and NSE improved sensitivity and specificity compared to CT alone, with no false positives in this limited population.


External organisations
  • Azienda Ospedaliera G. Panico
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Helsingborg Hospital
  • Academic Medical Center of University of Amsterdam (AMC)
  • Medical Center Leeuwarden
  • Santa Maria degli Angeli Hospital
  • Halmstad County Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Medical Imaging
  • Neurology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Early online date2017 Jul 4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch