Criteria for Emergency Brain MRI During Stroke-Alert

Evgeny Sidorov, Courtney Iser, Nidhi Kapoor, Bappaditya Ray, Juliane Chainakul, Chao Xu, Andrei V. Alexandrov, David Lee Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Intravenous (IV) tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) should be given to patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) and avoided in stroke mimics (SM). Select use of emergency brain magnetic resonance imaging (eMRI-brain) in stroke-alerts aids diagnosis, but accepted utilization criteria for eMRI-brain do not currently exist. We developed criteria for eMRI-brain and report the yield of eMRI-brain in stroke-alert patients. Materials and Methods: We developed three history-based criteria for performing eMRI-brain during stroke-alerts: (1) history of previous similar deficits, (2) change in consciousness at onset of symptoms, (3) symptom presentation consistent with migraine aura. We then performed a retrospective chart review of patients who presented as a stroke-alert over a 5-year period and determined how these criteria affected administration of IV tPA to AIS and SM patients. Results: Among 3,512 stroke-alerts, 230 (8.1%) patients met our criteria for eMRI-brain exams: 217 (92.6%) had SM and 17 (7.4%) had AIS. Our IV tPA decision-making analysis showed that based on eMRI-brain IV tPA was less frequently administered to SM patients (PCC-0.841, p=0.036) with less failures to administer IV tPA to patients with AIS (PCC -0.907, p-value=0.013, Pearson correlation coefficient). No patients became ineligible for IV tPA due to MRI-related time delays. Conclusions: Our history based criteria for performing eMRI-brain during stroke-alerts show a high yield of stroke mimics. Selective eMRI-brain improves decision-making accuracy regarding IV tPA administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105890
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Emergency MRI
  • IV tPA
  • MRI indication
  • Stroke mimics
  • Stroke-alert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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