Stroke is a clinical syndrome that is focused on the focal or cerebral deficit caused by a vascular block. The stroke usually lasts from a few minutes to few hours resulting in death if not provided the medical support. More than 80 per cent of strokes belong to the ischaemic category, 15 per cent due to intracerebral haemorrhage and the remaining 5% of the cases are due to subarachnoid haemorrhage.
Like any other emergency condition, diagnosis process for stroke plays a significant role in preventing further damage in the brain. The first diagnostic step would be imaging the brain. There are two types of brain imaging methods that are widely used when it comes to brain imaging for stroke – the Computed Tomography Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging. There are various factors that help the doctors to choose either of these imaging technologies.
Computed Tomography –
• This is a practical and quick scanning method. Most of the hospitals across the globe facilitate this service as it is easy to do on patients who are ill and unconscious.
• Even though this technique helps the medical providers in identifying the damage in the intracerebral haemorrhage accurately, this method has a few limitations.
• Delays in receiving medical attention reduce the accuracy of the identification of the issue leading to various medical challenges.
• Intracerebral haemorrhage could be misinterpreted as ischaemic category stroke if the scan is not done within the 10-14 days from the day of stroke occurrence.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging –
• This imaging technique is more appropriate to analyze the ischaemic stroke and also easy to recognize the damaged area in the brain as the white lesion.
• Ischaemic stroke is clearly visible on diffusion-weighted imaging making this technique useful for the positive identification process.
• However, this technique may not be useful for the identification of hyperacute intracerebral haemorrhage.
• The limitations of MRI are that this technique is available only in a few healthcare practices and also this is difficult to use routinely in acute and particularly severe strokes.
The imaging phase in a stroke determines the outcome of the treatment as it works as the window for the reversal of the damage caused by a stroke. CT scans are specialized X-Ray type while the MRI uses magnetic and radio waves to show the clearer images of the brain compared to the scans produced by CT.
Diffusion MRI measures the motion of molecular water in the tissue. Wherever the diffusion of water is restricted, where the brain damage has occurred. There are a few specific types of MRI scans that accurately reveal the damage that has been caused by a stroke.
The doctors derive a stroke treatment plan based on the results of the MRI scans resulting in providing faster and safer treatment in acute stroke cases.
CT scans are helpful when a person needs an emergency injection in order to break the blood clots and in the cases where the MRI facility is not available. In these situations, the diagnosis is conducted using the CT scanning method and the MRI can be added during the course of the treatment for better results. Otherwise, the MRI is more useful and accurate method to diagnose stroke.