If you’ve had early warning signs of stroke, or had a stroke, certain tests may be ordered to diagnosis the type of stroke and the most efficient treatment. Some common tests for stroke are:
Tests Viewing the Brain, Skull or Spinal Cord
- CT Scan – Computerized Axial Tomography uses x-rays to produce a three-dimensional image of your head. Can be used to diagnose ischemic or bleeding strokes.
- MRI Scan – Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses magnetic fields to produce a three-dimensional image of your head. Shows the brain and spinal cord in more detail than a CT scan. An MRI can be used to diagnose ischemic and bleeding strokes.
- CT Angiogram: Special CT scan that visualizes blood vessels in the brain and neck.
Tests Viewing Blood Vessels that Supply the Brain
- Carotid Doppler – Ultrasound waves used to take a picture of the carotid arteries in your neck. Shows blood flowing to brain, and if an artery is narrowed by plaque deposits.
- Transcranial Doppler – Ultrasound waves used to measure blood flow in certain arteries of your brain.
- MRA – Magnetic Resonance Angiogram is a special type of MRI scan to see blood vessels in the neck or brain.
- Cerebral Arteriogram – A catheter is inserted in an arm or leg artery. A special dye is injected into the blood vessels leading to the brain. X-ray images show any blood vessel abnormalities, including narrowing or blockages, including aneurysms. This is a more difficult test than the carotid doppler or MRA, but provides the most accurate results.
Tests Viewing Heart by Checking Its Function
- Electrocardiogram (EKG, or ECG) – Standard test to show electrical activity pattern in your heart. Electrical leads are attached to your chest, arms and legs connected to a telemetry monitor. If the test is given over time, you will wear a portable recorder (Holter monitor).
- Echocardiogram – Ultrasound waves used to take a picture of your heart and circulating blood. Ultrasound probe may be placed on your chest or in your throat.
Routine Screening Tests
- Chest X-ray – X-ray of lung and heart is standard for patients with acute cardiac or respiratory problems.
- Urinalysis – Sample screens for bladder infections, or kidney problems.
- Pulse Oximetry – A small probe with a red light is attached to one finger to see if your blood is receiving enough oxygen from the lungs.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) – Measures brain waves through electrical leads attached to your head. Not usually used to diagnose stroke, but is used to confirm seizure.
- Lumbar Puncture – Needle is inserted in lower back to obtain cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds your brain and spinal cord. Most often used to diagnose bleeding from a cerebral aneurysm, or a nervous system infection.
- Electromylogram – Records electrical activity of the nerves and muscles. Used if there seems to be a problem with nerves in your arms or legs.
- Brain Biopsy – Surgical procedure in which a small piece of the brain is removed for microscopic examination. Rarely used for stroke, but is used to diagnose tumors.