- Understanding Stroke Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Stroke Quiz
- Atrial Fibrillation Slideshow: Causes, Tests and Treatment
- Patient Comments: Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Causes
- Patient Comments: Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke) - Prognosis
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) facts
- What is a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What are the causes of transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What are the risk factors for transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What are the symptoms of transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- How is transient ischemic attack (TIA) diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
- What is the prognosis for transient ischemic attack (TIA)?
Quick GuideUnderstanding Stroke Symptoms, Signs, Treatment
How is transient ischemic attack (TIA) diagnosed?
TIA is diagnosed by history and physical examination. Since most often the symptoms have resolved, the physician will need to complete a thorough history from the patient and family or friends who witnessed the event. The physical exam will include careful attention to the neurologic examination. This may include:
- Assess mental status to make certain the patient is alert and oriented.
- Check eye range of motion and facial movement to evaluate the cranial nerves (the short nerves that run from the brain to the face and neck).
- Listen to the neck with a stethoscope to detect abnormal sounds that may signal narrowing of the blood vessel (carotid bruits).
- Check for a regular heart rhythm to rule out the presence of atrial fibrillation.
- Examine the arms and legs for tone, power, and sensation.
- Check coordination and balance.
If the diagnosis of TIA is made, further urgent testing is usually recommended, including:
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) to confirm a regular heart rate
- Computerized tomography (CT scan) of the brain to assess bleeding
- Carotid ultrasound to assess for narrowing of the large blood vessels in the neck
- Some hospitals have CT angiogram available to evaluate the cerebral, carotid, and vertebral arteries. This test is the same as a CT of the head with the addition of intravenous dye into the blood vessels to the arteries.
- Routine blood tests may include a complete blood count (CBC) to assess for anemia (low red blood cell count) or too few platelets (thrombocytopenia). If the patient takes warfarin (Coumadin), a blood thinner, then an international normalized ratio (INR - a blood test that measures the degree of blood thinning) or prothrombin time (PT), may be performed to assess blood clotting measurements.
- If there is concern that the heart is the source of blood clot or debris, then an echocardiogram or sound wave tracing of the heart may be considered.