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Definitions

Transient Ischaemic Attack – sometimes defined as a minor stroke, in which the blood supply to the brain is temporarily disturbed, leading to stroke like symptoms, but where the symptoms resolve within 24 hours. The cause of a TIA is the same as the cause of ischaemic stroke (see below).

Stroke - caused by a disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. There are two main types:

1. Ischaemic stroke - triggered by a clot narrowing or blocking a blood vessel to the brain causing the area of brain supplied by that vessel to be starved of oxygen, leading to the death of brain cells.

2. Haemorrhagic stroke (or Primary Intracerebral Haemorrhage) triggered by the rupture of blood vessels leading to bleeding into the brain and causing damage.

There are other unusual and relatively rare types of stroke and conditions that mimic the symptoms of stroke. Examples may include: cerebellar haematoma and large vessel dissection.

Imaging is vital in helping to identify the causes of acute stroke. Definitive diagnosis between these brain assaults is normally undertaken initially by CT brain scanning, and effective treatment, which can  vary significantly depending on the type of stroke diagnosed, cannot be commenced until imaging and interpretation of these scans has taken place. The importance of the radiography workforce, therefore, cannot be overestimated.

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