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Diagnosing Vascular Disease Before a Stroke Occurs

Various methods of medical imaging are excellent at diagnosing the disease that can cause stroke. Angiography (imaging of the blood vessels) can now be performed with a variety of imaging exams to image atherosclerotic disease:

MR Angiogram showing a narrowing of the carotid artery (arrows)

Restriction of carotid artery (arrows), shown here with MR angiography, could lead to embolitic stroke

Traditionally, x-ray angiography has been used as the primary method to image the blood vessels. However, CT, MR and ultrasound are now being used more and more for diagnosing disease of the blood vessels while x-ray angiography is being used to guide therapy of vascular disease. For example, new types of angioplasty are being developed to treat stenosis (narrowing) of the carotid arteries. The early diagnosis of carotid artery disease followed by treatment may significantly decrease the risk of acute ischemic stroke.

Updated: January 15, 2009