A Stroke of Genius

By September 22, 2009November 2nd, 2009Commentary

Stroke is a common and costly occurrence.  Diagnosing it correctly is not always easy.  Johns Hopkins and St. Francis Medical Center researchers have identified a quick, cheap and highly accurate method for distinguishing stroke from other conditions.  (Johns Hopkins release) (Stroke Abstract) (Paper available for fee)  The procedure basically involves having patients move their heads to follow an object and checking their eye movements.  It takes about a minute and is essentially free.  The alternative, which is frequently used, is an MRI.  Those are not cheap, and they also cannot be done as quickly as the eye movement test.  It is critical to diagnose a stroke as soon as possible so that treatment can begin.  The results need to be validated in larger studies, and it will be interesting to see how many physicians stop using MRI, but more of these kinds of developments would be great for quality and costs.

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