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Taking a Closer Look to Diagnose Stroke

Quickly pinpointing the precise location of a stroke and determining the extent of damage are crucial for making treatment decisions during a stroke emergency. For instance, before the appropriate medical intervention can begin, the physician must be able to rapidly determine whether the stroke is ischemic (arising from a blocked blood vessel) or hemorrhagic (bleeding in the brain caused by the bursting of a blood vessel).

Norton Stroke Care has some of the latest brain diagnostic services available to obtain in-depth information about a patient's status. These highly advanced imaging tools are of utmost importance for diagnosing stroke or identifying abnormalities that place a patient at high risk for stroke. During an evaluation, a physician will likely use one or more of the following diagnostic tools:

Computerized tomography (CT) scanning - generally the first diagnostic test done after a potential stroke patient arrives in the emergency department. Using low-dose X-rays to visualize the brain, the CT scan can quickly distinguish between an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - used to locate the precise site of the stroke and to determine accurately the extent of damage. This advanced diagnostic tool produces highly detailed anatomical images, making it especially useful when the stroke involves small blood vessels.

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) - a new, noninvasive technology for viewing the neck and cerebral blood vessels. The use of intravenous contrast agents has greatly improved the resolution of this test, providing valuable information regarding blood supply and vascular anomalies in the neck and brain.

Cerebral angiography (angiogram) - a specialized X-ray examination that evaluates blood flow to the brain by injecting a contrast dye through the femoral artery in the thigh. The contrast medium outlines the blood vessels in order to render them "visible" in the X-ray images.

Bi-plane angiography - an advanced diagnostic X-ray system used to visualize minute blood vessels in the brain in great detail. The new procedure is differentiated from traditional angiography in that it provides very detailed images from two different angles at the same time, significantly reducing testing and procedure time, as well as risk to the patient.

Carotid duplex scanning - a noninvasive diagnostic tool used to determine blockage in the carotid arteries by recording sound waves that reflect the velocity of blood flow.

Transesophageal echocardiography - allows the heart to be viewed through a flexible tube placed in the patient's esophagus.


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