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Stroke Diagnosis & Tests

If a patient is suspected of having a stroke, a quick diagnoses is important. Time is brain, so the specialists at Rex Healthcare have a number of screening tools and diagnostic tests at their fingertips to ensure a quick and accurate diagnosis of stroke.


Physical Exam

  A physician will first do a basic physical exam, including a blood pressure screening, to observe any signs of stroke as well as signs of other cardiovascular disease. At this time he or she will also take into account medical history and the presence of stroke risk factors.

Lab Tests

  A physician may order basic laboratory test (blood tests) to check for high cholesterol, diabetes and high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, all indicating cardiovascular disease and risk for stroke.

Computed Tomography (CT)

  A CT scan is a low-dose X-ray of the brain. It is a noninvasive exam and often one of the first tests used to determine if a stroke has occurred.

Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)

  During a CTA, dye is injected into blood vessels. Then an X-ray is taken of the head and neck. This creates a 3-D image that can detect abnormalities that may cause a lack of bloodflow to the brain.

Carotid Ultrasound

  This noninvasive ultrasound involves passing a wand over the neck to produce images of blood flowing through the carotid arteries. It shows whether or not blood is getting to the brain fast enough or at all.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  MRI produces detailed 3-D images of the brain using a strong magnetic field. The high level of detail allows physicians to determine whether there is tissue damage that could be the result of a stroke.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

  An MRA uses a strong magnetic field to produce 3-D images of blood vessels in the head as well as those supplying blood to the brain. This is a noninvasive procedure. At Rex we offer patient-friendly design with a large opening and short bore that is more comfortable for patients with claustrophobia.

Echocardiogram (ECG)

  An ECG uses a probe placed on the chest or a small tube that goes down a patient's throat to do an ultrasound of the heart. It is used to check for problems in the heart that may be a risk factor for stroke.

Transcranial Doppler (TCD)

  A TCD uses a small probe placed against the skull to show bloodflow through the vessels of the brain. This noninvasive ultrasound can be a diagnostic tool or show progress as medical treatment is performed.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

  PET scan is a noninvasive test that shows whether or not the brain is functioning normally. A patient is injected with a radiopharmaceutical tracer called FDG, which allows physicians to detect any abnormal molecular activity with the scan.


  An arteriography provides a picture of the arteries inside the brain. Using a catheter to inject dye into an artery in the arm or leg, X-rays provide images of the arteries in the brain made visible by the dye. The images show anything abnormal such as bleeding or blockage.