Most stroke patients undergo both CT and MRI brain scans, an unnecessary duplication that contributes to the rising costs of stroke care in the United States, a recent study indicates.

MRI Best Test For Stroke

University of Michigan researchers analyzed data from more than 600,000 patients diagnosed with stroke between 1999 and 2008 in 11 states, and found that 95% of the patients who had MRI scans also had CT brain scans.

"Compared with CT, MRI is a more accurate test for stroke. But our results showed that MRI is not replacing CT as the primary stroke neuroimaging study-instead, patients are getting both," said study author James Burke, MD, a clinical lecturer in the medical school's neurology department.

"Minimizing the use of multiple studies could be a viable strategy to reduce costs," he added.

The researchers noted that the costs of inpatient stroke care rose 42% between 1997 and 2007, an increase of $3,800 per stroke case. Brain scans were the largest contributor to the increased costs, they found.

"The data shows that neuroimaging practices in stroke are neither standardized (nor) efficient," Dr. Burke said. "This represents an area where we have an opportunity to substantially reduce the cost of care without adversely affecting the quality of care."

The study was published in the Annals of Neurology.

The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke at know.htm.

Better Treatment for Weekend Strokes

When researchers examined data on 134,000 hospitalizations over 12 years for stroke, patients treated at hospitals on weekends were 5% more likely to die over the next 90 days than those admitted during the week. However, this weekend effect" was not present for patients admitted to comprehensive stroke centers, which have 24/7 availability of acute stroke teams.

Self-defense: Contact your state's department of health to learn the location of the nearest comprehensive stroke center (known as "primary stroke centers" in most states) or go to and click on "Emergency Stroke Center Locations."

Citrus Fruits May Cut Women's Stroke Risk

Researchers studied the health records of 69,622 women, who reported their food intake every four years for 14 years.

Result: Women whose diets contained high levels of flavanones (found in oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruit) had a 19% lower risk for ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot than those who ate the least amount of flavanones.

Theory: Flavanones are thought to improve blood vessel function and have anti-inflammatory qualities.

Caution: Because grapefruit can interact with some medications, speak to your doctor before increasing your intake.

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