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New Super-Sensitive MRI Gives Clearer Picture of Stroke in Action

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The use of DWI to evaluate a series of 39 patients "resulted in both a change in diagnosis and change in management." Though that finding is persuasive, it still falls short of the type of large clinical trials that support CT, according to Tong.

The other studies, all discussed at the press conference, were also highly favorable. Candice J. Perkins, MD, a neurology fellow at State University of New York at Stony Brook, says that among a series of stroke patients who arrived at the hospital up to 6 hours from the onset of stroke, 77% "had lesions that were not detectable by traditional imaging but were visible using DWI." Perkins tells WebMD that traditional imaging refers to MRI. She says, too, that of the 77% with only DWI visible lesions, "half had salvageable brain tissue."

Gottfried Schlaug, MD, a staff neurologist at Beth Israel Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School, says DWI can also be used in conjunction with traditional MRI to estimate how much brain tissue can be salvaged.

He says he analyzed scans from 34 patients who had a stroke and found that by superimposing two MRIs and a DWI, one on top of another, "we can see how a stroke has enlarged. The mismatched area between the two initial MRIs and the last scan, the DWI, shows the area of tissue that may be salvaged." He says it may someday be possible to "tailor treatment for individual stroke patients using this technique."

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