What are the goals of a neurologic exam in patients with suspected ischemic stroke?

Updated: May 27, 2020
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

With the availability of reperfusion options (fibrinolytic and endovascular therapies) for acute ischemic stroke in selected patients, the physician must be able to perform a brief but accurate neurologic examination on patients with suspected stroke syndromes. The goals of the neurologic examination include the following:

  • Confirming the presence of stroke symptoms (neurologic deficits)

  • Distinguishing stroke from stroke mimics

  • Establishing a neurologic baseline, should the patient's condition improve or deteriorate

  • Establishing stroke severity, using a structured neurologic exam and score (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS]) to assist in prognosis and therapeutic selection


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