Conditions + Treatments

Arterial Ischemic Stroke Diagnosis in Children

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How a diagnosis for Arterial Ischemic Stroke (AIS) is made in children

Evaluation of arterial ischemic stroke usually begins in the emergency room. Stroke specialists will conduct a rapid physical examination and the care team will work to quickly confirm and locate the cause of the stroke—a blood clot or abnormality in a brain artery—through imaging tests. These can include:

  • computed tomography (CT or CAT scan), using x-ray equipment and powerful computers to create detailed “slices” of the brain
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in which a strong magnetic field, radio waves and advanced computer processing create 2- and 3-dimensional brain images
  • ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves and their echoes to evaluate blood flow in vessels of the brain

All these tests are painless and noninvasive, although some might require placement of an intravenous (IV) line to deliver agents needed for certain types of imaging. Since MRI requires a child to hold still inside a scanner, very young children may need sedation. CT scans use ionizing radiation, so Boston Children’s has changed its protocols to keep doses as low as possible.

In addition to imaging, the care team may collect blood samples to look for a medical condition that may increase risk for blood clotting. At Boston Children’s, detailed blood testing is sometimes offered through our Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Program and our Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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