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Diagnosis and Treatment

Stroke Diagnosis

Strokes are diagnosed after the completion of a simple neurological exam to find the degree and location of your symptoms. Your doctor may also perform one of the following diagnostic procedures:  

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan: This is usually the first diagnostic test performed after a stroke patient arrives in the Emergency Department. This test distinguishes whether the stroke was caused by bleeding in the brain, a blockage, or a blood clot that interrupted blood flow to the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An advanced diagnostic tool that provides high definition detail to locate damage, especially in small blood vessels.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan: A scan that measures brain cell metabolism to determine brain function, even if blood flow to the area appears to be diminished.

Stroke Treatment Options

Early stroke treatment can help reduce brain damage caused by stroke. The sooner you seek medical help, the better. Certain stroke treatment options can only be performed within hours of the onset of stroke.


After hemorrhagic stroke, surgery is often necessary to remove blood from around the brain and repair damaged blood vessels. To repair clogged arteries, radiologists sometimes use an angiogram to define clogged blood vessels and open them up for repair. Surgery is also sometimes necessary to repair the carotid artery in the neck.

Thrombolytic therapy (tPA therapy)

Tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, is an important tool used to treat acute ischemic stroke. tPA is a genetically engineered protein that works as a “clot buster.” tPA is delivered intravenously to patients who reach the emergency room within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms and are determined to be suitable candidates. tPA can dissolve clots and restore blood flow to brain tissue before a blockage results in damage or death of the surrounding brain tissue.