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Is MRI better than CT scan to diagnose a stroke?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has some advantages in stroke diagnosis. In a Lancet study, MRI accurately diagnosed 83% of acute strokes (that is, strokes in progress), while computed tomography (CT) scans diagnosed only 26%. Still, MRI is unlikely to replace CT scans for speedy diagnosis of acute stroke anytime soon. For one thing, while most emergency departments can quickly order a CT scan for suspected stroke patients, fewer have rapid access to MRI. MRI is also more expensive than CT and takes longer to do. Still, for acute ischemic stroke patients who now have a four-and-a-half-hour window in which to receive thrombolytic therapy, the extra time needed for MRI may be feasible.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.