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Stroke. 1998 Dec;29(12):2563-7.

Differentiation between intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic stroke by transcranial color-coded duplex-sonography.

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Department of Neurology, Bayerische Julius-Maximilians-Univerisität, Würzburg, Germany.



The differential diagnosis of intracerebral hemorrhage versus ischemic stroke has critical implications for stroke management. Transcranial color-coded duplex sonography (TCCS) has been shown to identify intracerebral hemorrhages and intracerebral vessel occlusions. We conducted this study to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of TCCS in this differential diagnosis and in the detection of stroke complications.


One hundred fifty-one patients (58 women, 93 men; mean age, 65.6 years [range, 32 to 89 years] ) with acute hemiparesis were enrolled in this prospective study. On admission all patients had a complete neurological examination. A cranial CT scan and a sonographic examination of the brain parenchyma and all extracranial and intracranial cerebral arteries were conducted. The sonographer was blinded for the radiological findings.


According to CT criteria, 60 patients had an intracerebral hemorrhage and 67 patients had an ischemic stroke, and in 24 patients CT findings were inconclusive, showing neither bleeding nor an ischemic stroke. On sonographic examination, 18 patients (12%) had no sufficient acoustic bone window. Of the remaining 133 patients, 126 (95%) were diagnosed correctly by sonography in agreement with CT. Sonography missed 3 atypical bleedings (2 with upper parietal location). In 4 patients without bleeding, an intracerebral hemorrhage was suspected by TCCS because of increased white matter echo density due to microangiopathy. Stroke complications depicted by CT (disturbance of cerebrospinal fluid circulation, hemorrhagic transformation, midline shift, ventricular bleeding) (n=54) were correctly shown by TCCS in 45 patients (83%). No complication was missed that would have required further treatment.


In comparison to the "gold standard" of CT, TCCS identified stroke complications and differentiated between intracerebral hemorrhage and ischemic stroke with reasonable sensitivity. Thus, if CT is not readily available, TCCS may complement clinical examination in patients with acute stroke. In addition, it may also be useful in detecting stroke complications in the follow-up of stroke patients.

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