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Tests That Identify a TIA and Rule Out Other Conditions

Tests Used for Diagnosing TIA

If the healthcare provider believes that a person might have had a TIA, he or she will order tests. These tests can help diagnosis a TIA or other medical conditions that can mimic TIA symptoms. Doctors may also use some of these tests to find the TIA cause or look for TIA risk factors. These tests for TIA include:
  • Blood tests (such as tests looking for high cholesterol or diabetes)
  • Computed tomography scan (CAT scan or CT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Carotid Doppler ultrasound
  • Carotid arteriography
  • Cerebral angiography (also known as a cerebral angiogram, cerebral arteriogram, or digital subtraction angiography)
  • Magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Transcranial Doppler
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Electroencephalography (EEG).

TIA Diagnosis: Ruling Out Other Medical Conditions

As part of diagnosing TIA, a healthcare provider will consider other conditions that can cause similar signs or symptoms. Some of these conditions doctors may consider before making a TIA diagnosis may include:
  • Stroke
  • Migraine
  • Bleeding just outside the brain, such as from a subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Brain tumor
  • Abscess, which is a collection of pus
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
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