More Tools to Diagnose a Stroke
A transcranial Doppler uses ultrasound to look at certain blood vessels within the brain.
An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless test that looks for problems in the heart's electrical activity along with any signs of a heart attack. Problems with the heart's electrical system, such as atrial fibrillation or sick sinus syndrome, increase the risk for blood clots. Therefore, these conditions are risk factors for a stroke. A recent heart attack is also a stroke risk factor.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. It provides information about the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart chambers and valves are functioning. Also, the test can identify:
- Areas of poor blood flow to the heart
- Areas of heart muscle that are not contracting
- Previous injury to the heart muscle caused by poor blood flow.
For stroke testing, healthcare providers may recommend an echocardiogram to look for blood clots within the heart along with heart valve conditions.
A lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) is a procedure in which a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) is removed by a special needle that is inserted into the lower back. The fluid, which is completely clear in healthy people, is tested to detect the presence of bacteria or blood. Healthcare providers may recommend a lumbar puncture in selected stroke cases if they believe that bleeding outside the brain or an infection may be causing stroke-like symptoms.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) measures brain activity; however, an EEG is rarely useful in evaluating a stroke. Occasionally, it may help with diagnosing a seizure versus a transient ischemic attack (TIA or "mini-stroke").