The Value of Brain Scanning in the Management of Strokes

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The usefulness of brain scanning in the diagnosis and management of strokes was evaluated in 313 serial cases. Of 38 patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), only one had a positive test. The optimal time for scanning completed strokes was between seven and 14 days after onset. The pattern of uptake was characteristic of a vascular lesion in 76.8%. When uptake was indistinguishable from tumor, follow-up scans were useful. Patients with negative scans in the second week have a significantly better prognosis than the ones with a positive study. Cerebral angiography and brain scan correlated well in 56 patients who had both tests performed. The postmortem findings in 12 cases again emphasize the importance of the correct timing of the study, and the fact that a brain scan does not usually demonstrate lesions smaller than 2 cm in diameter. It is concluded that the brain scan represents a useful tool in the diagnosis of strokes and helps in predicting the degree of recovery following a vascular insult.

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