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Diagnosis Neurology & Neurosurgery


Your neurologist will perform a physical examination to determine if you've had a stroke. Your examination may include blood or urine tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), electroencephalogram (EEG) or imaging tests.

Imaging tests may include:

  • Arteriography This shows arteries in the brain that can't be seen in regular X-rays. An arteriogram may be performed if other tests don't reveal the cause of the stroke. Your doctor will make a small incision, usually in your groin, then insert a catheter, which is a flexible, thin tube, carefully through your arteries and into your carotid or vertebral artery. Your doctor will then inject a dye into the catheter that helps your cranial arteries appear more clearly in an X-ray image.
  • Carotid Ultrasonography This machine sends sound waves into the tissues in your neck, which creates images on a screen. These images may reveal narrowing in the carotid arteries.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan With this test, X-ray beams are used to create a three-dimensional image of the brain, the brain's blood vessels and main blood flow.
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) This procedure uses a strong magnetic field to show the arteries in the neck and brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Using a strong magnetic field, an MRI can generate a three-dimensional image of the brain. An MRI is often used to locate an area of the brain that's been damaged by an ischemic stroke.

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.