A stroke triggers a fight against time; every minute that passes before a person is treated increases the risk for lasting brain damage. However, a new study shows that taking the time for magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, may allow for better treatment decisions – and ultimately, better outcomes.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
More specifically, the research shows that an MRI may be useful in determining if someone having a stroke will or will not benefit from a surgical procedure to remove or break up a blood clot in the brain. This is important to determine because if too much damage has taken place, these procedures could actually put a patient at greater risk, and provide little benefit.
Interventional neurologist M. Shazam Hussain, MD, led the Cleveland Clinic study on this topic. He says the findings suggest using MRI in addition to standard tests could help doctors better determine who is best for treatment.
How MRI could change stroke treatment
Traditionally, a CT scan is used to determine how much damage a stroke has caused. Dr. Hussain and his team added an MRI to see if it would get them a better picture of how much brain injury had already occurred.
“It really does give us a lot more information. Then we can really target those people who have a large amount of brain to save who are really going to benefit from therapy,” Dr. Hussain says.
Results show that the MRI helped better identify good candidates for treatment and those who received an MRI had better outcomes.
Does an MRI take more time?
Experts say, “Time is brain” when it comes to a stroke. Some people fear adding another test, like an MRI, could take too long and cause more damage, but Dr. Hussain says that wasn’t the case.
“Most people across the country think using MRI would cause a lot of delays. We actually found there was no difference in the time it took us to get into the angio room to start the procedure.”
From Cleveland.com: Cleveland Clinic Stroke Study Shows Quick MRI Helps Cut Down on Unnecessary Interventions
Stroke: Types, Risk and Patient Treatment Guides
Stroke Risk Calculator
Cleveland Clinic Cerebrovascular Center
Wellness and Stroke Prevention
You May Need This After a Stroke: ‘Stentriever’