Background and Purpose-Stroke mimics (SM) challenge the initial assessment of patients presenting with possible acute ischemic stroke (AIS). When SM is considered likely, intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) may be withheld, risking an opportunity to treat AIS. Although computed tomography is routinely used for tPA decision making, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may diagnose AIS when SM is favored but not certain. We hypothesized that a hyperacute MRI (hMRI) protocol would identify tPA-eligible AIS patients among those initially favored to have SM. Methods-A streamlined hMRI protocol was designed based on barriers to rapid patient transport, MRI acquisition, and post-MRI tPA delivery. Neurologists were trained to order hMRI when SM was favored and tPA was being withheld. The use of hMRI for tPA decision making, door-to-needle times, and outcomes were compared before hMRI implementation (pre-hMRI: August 1, 2011 to July 31, 2013) and after (post-hMRI, August 1, 2013, to January 15, 2015). Results-Post hMRI, 57 patients with suspected SM underwent hMRI (median MRI-order-to-start time, 29 minutes), of whom, 11 (19%) were diagnosed with AIS and 7 (12%) received tPA. Pre-hMRI, no tPA-treated patients were screened with hMRI. Post hMRI, 7 of 106 (6.6%) tPA-treated patients underwent hMRI to aid in decision making because of suspected SM (0% versus 6.6%; P=0.001). To ensure standard care was maintained after implementing the hMRI protocol, pre-versus post-hMRI tPA-treated cohorts were compared and did not differ: door-to-needle time (39 versus 37 minutes; P=0.63), symptomatic hemorrhage rate (4.5% versus 1.9%; P=0.32), and favorable discharge location (85% versus 89%; P=0.37). Conclusions-A streamlined hMRI protocol permitted tPA administration to a small, but significant, subset of AIS patients initially considered to have SM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1017
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Stroke
  • Thrombolytic therapy
  • Tissue-type plasminogen activator


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