The New Jersey Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospital
The process of diagnosing a stroke involves several steps:
- confirming that the problem is stroke (eliminating the possibility of another medical condition that has similar symptoms)
- determining the type of stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic)
- determining the location and severity of the stroke
Many other disease processes can mimic stroke, such as brain tumors, infections (meningitis), head injury and hypoglycemia. The faster the diagnosis, the faster a stroke patient can be treated and damage prevented or minimized.
Pinpoint accuracy is key. Depending on the type of stroke — ischemic or hemorrhagic — and its location and severity, the appropriate treatment can be quite different. In fact, treating an ischemic stroke as though it were hemorrhagic or vice versa could have life-threatening consequences.
A variety of methods are used in the diagnostic process. They range from information-gathering interviews at the scene of the stroke to sophisticated three-dimensional computerized technology.