In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures
for stroke may include the following.
Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology
to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan
shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat,
and organs. CT scans are used to detect abnormalities and help identify the location
or type of stroke.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies,
and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body;
an MRI uses magnetic fields to detect small changes in brain tissue that helps to
locate and diagnose stroke.
Radionuclide angiography. A nuclear brain scan in which radioactive compounds are injected into a vein in the
arm, and a machine (similar to a Geiger counter) creates a map showing their uptake
into different parts of the head. The images show how the brain functions rather than
its structure. This test, only done in special situations, can often detect areas
of decreased blood flow and tissue damage.
Computed tomographic angiography (CTA). An X-ray image of the blood vessels. A CT angiogram uses CT technology to obtain images
of blood vessels.
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). A procedure used to evaluate blood flow through arteries in a noninvasive (the skin
is not pierced) manner using MRI technology.
Conventional cerebral angiogram. A catheter is used to examine cerebral blood to determine the specific location of
the blood vessel blockage.