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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2001;11(3):143-50.

Imaging of acute stroke.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass 01655, USA.


The utility of diagnostic imaging during the critical first few hours after stroke onset has many important applications. First and foremost, imaging technologies that can reliably detect and quantify the location of acute stroke will greatly enhance the clinician's ability to accurately diagnose individual stroke patients. Secondly, if imaging technology could provide information about the likely severity of the ischemic injury, patient prognosis and management would be enhanced. The possibility of potentially distinguishing severely injured and likely irreversible ischemic brain tissue from ischemic tissue likely not yet irreversibly injured may soon be attainable. The ability of imaging technology to reliably distinguish the status of focally ischemic brain will presumably dramatically impact upon patient management. This information, along with the data about the severity and extent of blood flow and tissue perfusion abnormalities, will help acute stroke care evolve beyond rigid time windows to individualized, pathophysiologically based treatment decisions. Not only will decisions to treat or not be made based upon imaging-derived status, but also the most appropriate type of therapy to be employed, i.e. thrombolysis, neuroprotection, therapy to reduce secondary reperfusion-related injury or combinations of these modalities. In this brief and necessarily incomplete overview of acute stroke imaging, the focus will be on new developments in CT and MRI.

Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

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