When a patient comes to the emergency room with symptoms of stroke, it’s critical to diagnose it quickly in order to determine the appropriate treatment — and treatment is different for ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.
Clot-busting drug treatments can only be used for stroke caused by a blocked artery (ischemic), so it is crucial to receive an accurate diagnosis before treatment begins.
In the emergency room, stroke emergency teams determine a correct diagnosis by gathering medical history and conducting a physical and neurological examination. Diagnostic tests will help evaluate brain function and the extent of injury.
Tests used to diagnose a stroke include:
- Advanced imaging scans of the brain using CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) show the location and extent of brain injury.
- Blood flow tests — such as arteriography, magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA), carotid ultrasound and transcranial doppler — give detailed information about the condition of arteries that supply blood to the brain.
- Diagnostic labs, including blood clotting studies, look for certain factors that could contribute to stroke.
At all of our hospitals, our stroke care experts are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating stroke. Stroke team members employ the latest imaging and diagnostic technology to help them provide an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible so treatment can begin.