Determining the best treatment for stroke victims

New study shows MRI can give better picture of the amount of brain injury

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

New research shows Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI,  may be useful when trying to determine if someone having a stroke will benefit from a procedure to remove a blood clot in the brain or break it up.  

Dr. Shazam Hussain, who treats stroke patients at Cleveland Clinic and led the study, says using MRI in addition to standard tests may help doctors better determine who is best for treatment.

"It really does give us a lot more information and then we can really target those people who have a large amount of brain to save and they're really going to benefit from therapy," said Hussain.

Traditionally a CT scan is used to determine how much damage a stroke has caused. 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.  If too much damage has taken place, procedures designed to remove or break up clots in the brain could put a patient at greater risk, and provide little benefit.

Results show that the MRI helped better identify good candidates for treatment and those who received an MRI had better outcomes.  

Time is brain when it comes to a stroke and some people fear adding another test, like an MRI, could take too long and cause more damage but Hussain says that wasn't the case. 

"Most people across the country think using MRI would cause a lot of delays and being able to administer this kind of treatment," explained Hussain. "We actually found there was no difference in the time it took us to get actually into the angio room to start the procedure."

Complete results of this study can be found in the journal Stroke.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.