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MRI could assist speedy stroke diagnosis

2nd November 2006

According to new research, developments in MRI scanning could cut brain damage in stroke victims.

It can be difficult for doctors to make on-the-spot decisions about drug administration in the case of stroke victims, as some patients require the release of a blocked blood vessel, while in others this could cause a haemorrhage.

Now, however, it is possible to quickly determine which of these categories a stroke patient falls into using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

"One of the criticism was that these detailed brain images looked beautiful and interesting, but there was no proof that they should be used to influence treatment or that they would result in improved outcomes," said Dr Greg Albers, director of the Stanford Stroke Center and leader of the study.

He said that they had successfully begun to show that you can answer the question: "How do you know that these MRI patterns can predict whether the therapy is likely to be beneficial?"

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for patients who are victims of stroke, as the majority do not make it to the hospital within three hours and so once they arrive in the emergency room, every minute counts.