Tests to Expect in Hospital
Tests to Expect in Hospital
In this section we discuss the different tests that doctors use to identify the type of stroke that you are having, and the location of the stroke in your brain.
Your doctor will do the following:
- Ask which warnings signs you had leading up to the stroke
- Ask about your medical history
- Take your temperature, pulse and blood pressure
- Use a stethoscope to listen to your heart
- Test your speech, facial movement, eye movements, muscle strength, reflexes and other body functions.
Blood tests help doctors to understand the possible causes of the stroke. They may include a cholesterol test, a blood sugar test (to check for diabetes) and a blood count test (to check if you are anaemic or if your blood is too thick).
An ECG records the electrical signals from your heart. It can pick up any irregular heartbeats and whether your heart is beating too fast. The nurse or medical technician will place sticky patches (electrodes) on your arms and chest, so that a heart tracing can be made on paper to show your heart rhythm. It is a quick and painless test.
Brain imaging tests (CT scans and MRI scans) produce images of the brain. A CT scan is a special type of X-ray of the brain, indicating if there is bleeding in the brain or whether a blocked blood vessel caused damage to the brain. It is a painless test and can be done whilst you lie on a hospital bed. The bed moves through a machine shaped like a doughnut. The test can take anything from 5 to 20 minutes. It is crucial that every stroke patient undergoes a CT scan after having a stroke or TIA.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan
An MRI scan is used to make detailed three-dimensional pictures of the brain. The test makes use of powerful magnets, meaning that people with pacemakers or other types of metallic implants cannot undergo the test. During the scan you will lie on a hospital bed that slowly moves through a tunnel.
Carotid Doppler tests are usually done after you had a TIA or mini-stroke. This ultrasound scan looks at the blood flowing in the carotid arteries (the main arteries in your neck). The test can help doctors to analyse if the blood vessels in your neck are narrowing and whether you will require any surgical treatments.
This test is usually requested if the doctor suspects that your stroke or TIA may have been caused by clots that came from the heart. The test indicates whether there are any clots in your heart, as well as the potential source of the clots. If clots are detected, your doctor can give you treatment to lower the chances of the clots being pumped out into your blood stream.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
This test is done in the same way as an MRI, but sometimes dye may be injected into your veins to give a clear picture of the larger blood vessels in the brain.
A CT angiogram combines a CT scan with an injection of dye into a vein, to create images of the blood vessels in your brain. This allows the size and location of any blockages to be detected.