The Role of Vascular Imaging in the Initial Assessment of Patients with Acute Ischemic Stroke

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2016 Apr;16(4):32. doi: 10.1007/s11910-016-0632-y.


Over the last few years, improvement in radiological imaging and treatment has changed the management of acute ischemic stroke. We have made significant advances in not only the imaging modalities themselves but also in identifying imaging parameters that can help us predict patient outcomes with both intravascular thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy. In this review, we describe the added utility of baseline vascular imaging including computed tomography angiography and magnetic resonance angiography in the diagnosis and management of patients with acute ischemic stroke. We focus on information these imaging modalities provide on clot characteristics, tissue state, collateral status, and endovascular planning. We also highlight the benefits of newer imaging modalities like dynamic computed tomography angiography (CTA) and multi-phase CTA. Lastly, we also describe some of the disadvantages of vascular imaging in ischemic stroke.

Keywords: Acute ischemic stroke; Collaterals; Computed tomography angiography; Magnetic resonance angiography; Thrombus characteristics; Time-resolved imaging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods