Stroke: MR or CT, diagnostic accuracy vs logistics

July 23, 2010

The American Academy of Neurology has weighed in heavily on the side of MR as opposed to noncontrast CT for the diagnosis of stroke patients in its newly published practice guidelines. However, the practice may not be feasible in the real world.

According to the president of AHA, it is clear that MR has more diagnostic accuracy than a CT scan for stroke assessment. The latest studies reviewed in the article demonstrate the superiority of MRI for detecting a stroke at an early stadium. However, considering the current situation in most hospitals, it is always faster to do a CT than an MR scan on an acute stroke patient. There are always extra arrangements to be made before the patient can get into the MR scanner and many places do not have more than one MR scanner, which is fully booked the whole day.
As a conclusion, if hospitals are going to implement these guidelines, they probably need to get themselves an MR scanner at the emergency department.


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