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Brain MRI Can Detect Time of Stroke to Guide Treatment

Last Updated: November 04, 2010.

Indications of when a stroke occurred can be seen on a magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain, enabling clinicians to tell whether a stroke patient is within the window for potentially life-saving thrombolytic therapy, according to a study published online Nov. 2 in Radiology.

THURSDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Indications of when a stroke occurred can be seen on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain, enabling clinicians to tell whether a stroke patient is within the window for potentially life-saving thrombolytic therapy, according to a study published online Nov. 2 in Radiology.

Mina Petkova, M.D., of the Université Paris Descartes, and colleagues studied 130 stroke patients for whom the time of stroke onset was known and who had had MRI scans. The patients imaged within 12 hours of their stroke and those imaged within three hours were compared for several MRI parameters, including fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR), diffusion-weighted imaging, and apparent diffusion coefficient ratios.

The researchers found that the calculated FLAIR ratio had a positive correlation with the time from symptom onset, which enabled them to distinguish between patients imaged less than three hours and those imaged more than three hours after stroke onset with 90 percent sensitivity and 93 percent specificity. Images taken within three hours also could be identified by visual inspection with 94 percent sensitivity and 97 percent specificity.

"Signal intensity changes on 1.5-T FLAIR magnetic resonance images can be used as a surrogate marker of stroke age, either qualitatively or quantitatively. This suggests that MRI might be used as a 'clock' for determining stroke age in patients with an unknown onset time, potentially increasing the number of patients who are eligible for thrombolysis," the authors write.

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