What is the role of CT scanning in the workup of 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

Imaging with CT scanning has multiple logistic advantages for patients with acute stroke. Image acquisition is faster with CT scanning than with MRI, allowing for assessment with an examination that includes noncontrast CT scanning, CT angiography (CTA), and CT perfusion scanning in a short amount of time. Expedient acquisition is of the utmost importance in acute stroke imaging because of the narrow window of time available for definitive ischemic stroke treatment with pharmacologic agents and mechanical devices.

CT scanning can also be performed in patients who are unable to tolerate an MR examination or who have contraindications to MRI, including implantable pacemakers, some aneurysm clips, or other ferromagnetic materials in their bodies. Additionally, CT scanning is more easily accessible and commonly located in the ED, which is helpful for patients who require special equipment for monitoring or life support. [65, 66]


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