Tissue is more important than time: insights into acute ischemic stroke from modern brain imaging

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Purpose of reviewThe clinical practice of acute ischemic stroke treatment has undergone a major change over the last 5 years, as multimodal imaging becomes more accessible, and evidence mounts that individualized treatment is possible. Multimodal imaging performed before treatment provides invaluable information to treating clinicians, which includes confirmation of the diagnosis, and provides guidance on the appropriateness and the likely outcome of intravenous or endovascular treatment for individual patients (and their families). However, often health systems struggle to keep pace with science; thus, a one-size fits all protocol-driven basic imaging approach is still the norm in many stroke centers.Recent findingsComprehensive multimodal computed tomography (CT) (incorporating noncontrast CT, CT angiography, and perfusion CT) provides rapid, reliable information about stroke pathophysiology that cannot be provided by more limited imaging prior to treatment. Multimodal CT identifies treatment responders for both intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular therapy. Now we are in the era of thrombectomy, the use of multimodal imaging routinely to guide treatment can no longer be avoided.SummaryIn light of the ground breaking thrombectomy trial results and previous studies validating the use of multimodal imaging, there is now a strong rationale for performing comprehensive multimodal CT assessments before treatment as a standard of care for all stroke patients.

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