The study, published in the journal Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, found that routine or standard care CTA scans were an accurate screening method for faster detection of Covid-19 since they include imaging of the upper portion of the lungs.
"Conducting a CTA is already part of the stroke management process, and these scans provide an opportunity to assess the lungs for signs suggestive of Covid-19," said study author Charles Esenwa from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US.
"Our team sought to determine if this already necessary scan could have a secondary use of identifying potential Covid-19 patients more quickly than a standard nasal swab Covid-19 test," Esenwa added.
For the results, the research team conducted a retrospective analysis of patients treated for AIS at three hospitals.
A total of 57 patients who received a CTA scan within 24 hours of hospitalisation for AIS were included in the study.
Researchers used CTA scans to evaluate the lung apices (the upper area of the lungs) for signs of Covid-19 pneumonia.
They then analysed the accuracy of using CTA scans for Covid-19 diagnosis alone as well as in combination with patient-reported symptoms, such as cough and shortness of breath.
Researchers found that CTA scans in combination with patient feedback to Covid-19 symptom questions were able to diagnose Covid-19 with 83 per cent accuracy before results were received from traditional nasal swab tests in AIS patients.
In combination with symptoms, CTA scan analysis is relatively accurate in diagnosing Covid-19, even compared to the nasal swab test.
"Since this analysis is much faster and at no extra cost, we hope it could be incorporated as a rapid diagnosis tool for patients with acute stroke," Esenwa said.
"In addition, accurately diagnosing Covid-19 within hours, rather than the sometimes days wait-time to receive the results from nasal swab tests could help protect both patients and medical professionals," Esenwa noted.