"The three-minute head scan is as good as the 20-minute version, and in some instances better because stroke patients may be distressed and move around," said study co-author, Jonathan H. Gillard, M.D. "Pictures taken in a shorter period of time are less susceptible to degradation from the patient moving during the scan." Dr. Gillard is a lecturer and honorary consultant neuroradiologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, University of Cambridge in England, where the study is ongoing.
To be successful, treatment with intravenous thrombolytic (clot-busting) drugs must typically begin within three hours after stroke onset. Interventional radiology has increased the critical treatment window through the use of catheters that deliver the drugs directly to the clot in the brain, but every minute counts. Therefore, it is essential that stroke patients be diagnosed quickly, so that treatment can begin. Computed tomography (CT) is the usual method for diagnosing stroke, because it only takes a few minutes, compared to 20 minutes with conventional MRI. However, unlike MRI, CT does not identify the parts of the brain that are at risk of damage.
The researchers studied 24 patients with clinical diagnosis of probable acute middle cerebral artery stroke to compare images obtained with conventional MRI and with the three-minute protocol using new multi-channel, phased-array brain coils, which can produce the same number of images in a fraction of the time. Overall, the two protocols were comparable in image quality and diagnostic results. However, two of the three-minute protocol images were of better quality than the conventional images
Contact: Maureen Morley
Radiological Society of North America