Subarachnoid and intraventricular hemorrhage can be spontaneous, as in the case of a bleeding aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation, or secondary to trauma. CT is the imaging modality of choice for evaluating these types of hemorrhages because it detects the hemorrhage from its onset as a hyperdensity. However, subarachnoid hemorrhage is not as radiodense as epidural or subdural hemorrhage because the blood will be diluted by CSF. Unless blood replaces at least 70% of the CSF, the subarachnoid hemorrhage remains isodense to adjacent gray matter (82). When the volume of blood is sufficient to make the hemorrhage hyperdense, it accumulates in the extensions and expansions of the subarachnoid space. Subarachnoid hemorrhage appears as linear radiodensities within the sulci or fissures or as larger aggregations in the basal cisterns (Fig. 6-86). MRI will not visualize a very early hemorrhage when oxyhemoglobin, a nonparamagnetic substance, is the primary constituent, and thus CT is the study of choice in the very early stages. Subarachnoid and intraventricular hemorrhage can cause communicating hydrocephalus by virtue of red blood cells blocking the arachnoid granulations, the CSF resorption sites.
FIGURE 6-86. Subarachnoid hemorrhage secondary to a right middle cerebral artery aneurysm. CT shows this condition as hemorrhagic radiodensities within sulci and cisterns (arrow ).
Aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations can be detected directly by contrast-enhanced CT and MRI, or by their flow void characteristics on non–contrast-enhanced MR images (Fig. 6-87A,B).