What is the role of MRI in the diagnosis and management of acute stroke?

Updated: Dec 19, 2018
  • Author: Souvik Sen, MD, MPH, MS, FAHA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is increasingly being used in the diagnosis and management of acute ischemic stroke and is sensitive and relatively specific in detecting changes that occur after such strokes.

Advances in MRI include higher strength of magnetic field (1.5-3.0 T field strength) yielding better resolution of images, newer sequences of images, and the advent of the open MRI for patients who are claustrophobic or overweight. Recently, 7.0 and 9.4 T field strength MRI have been introduced with higher signal-to-noise (SNR) and contrast-to-noise (CNR) ratios compared to lower field strengths. However, limitations such as inhomogeneous transmit fields and extensive contraindications for patient scanning restricts their clinical application in acute stroke.

Inpatients may often continue to be monitored and receive treatment while undergoing MRI, because MRI-compatible electrocardiographic monitors, intravenous infusion pumps, and ventilators are available.

MRI has some limitations, such as high cost, long scanning duration, and decreased sensitivity in the detection of subarachnoid hemorrhages.

Go to Ischemic Stroke for more complete information on this topic.


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