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TIA – Testing in ER

February 13, 2022


So what are the tests that we’re going to do for someone who comes in with a TIA? First, I’ll point out, this is generally done in the emergency department and the goal here is we’re trying to diagnose where the TIA could have come from to prevent the stroke that could happen. So the first set of tests you’ll get are going to be blood tests. You’re going to check your blood counts and we’re going to check your kidney function, your electrolytes. These are things that if they’re out of whack, actually could mimic some stroke symptoms or TIA symptoms. Number two, you need brain imaging. Often the initial study you’ll get is a cat scan or a CT scan. The reason that’s so common in the ERs that that’s fast and easy to get and it does give us some information, like if you’ve had any bleeding in the brain or if there’s a big brain tumor, all things that are unlikely. But this needs to be followed up with an MRI. An MRI is a really useful test in these cases because it can detect much, much more sensitively if there’s actually been a stroke. And I would point out that about half of patients with TIA when they actually get an MRI, have a stroke. It was just so tiny. The symptoms went away, and that’s an important thing for us to know and those are easily missed on a cat scan.

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