Stroke and TIA: Finding the Cause

Bon Secours Neuroscience, Primary Stroke Center, NeuronsIt’s very important to find what causes a stroke or stroke warning signs (TIA). Your doctor must know the cause to decide on the best treatment for you. Your doctor will ask questions about your health now and in the past. He or she will also ask about your family’s health. You will have a complete physical exam. The doctor will also check your nervous system. This is called a neurologic exam. This exam checks your level of alertness, sensation, coordination, reflexes, muscle strength and response to pain.

Diagnostic Tests
After looking at the results of the physical and neurological exams, your doctor may send you for one or more tests. These tests are called diagnostic tests. These tests help to find what caused your stroke or TIA. They also help to detect the type, size and location of the brain injury that resulted from the stroke or TIA. There are two types of diagnostic tests.

The first type is called non-invasive. During a non-invasive test, no foreign object or substance enters your body. For example, an X-ray is a non-invasive test. The second type is invasive. An invasive test makes a puncture or cut (incision), injects a fluid or inserts an instrument into your body. For example, tests that use an intravenous (IV) line are invasive. Before you have an invasive test, you must sign a consent form. Diagnostic tests that are done the most often are X-ray, ultrasound and computer-assisted imaging. Some of these tests combine invasive and non-invasive procedures.

Questions and Concerns
Generally, you have little or no discomfort during a neurologic diagnostic test. You will have no side effects, or the side effects are minor. Here are the three basic rules to follow during your test:

  • Relax
  • Remain still
  • Do what the doctor, nurse or technician tells you

It’s normal to have some anxiety before and during a test. But a diagnostic test should not be a frightening experience for you. Feel free to express any concerns about your tests. Ask the medical staff any questions you may have.

+ Learn more about strokes at our upcoming “Different Strokes for Women” Bon Secours for Women Seminar Series!

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