Advanced Diagnostics

Patients have access to the latest diagnostic technologies to pinpoint specific disorders. We are using advanced imaging technologies to produce scans of the brain and the spinal cord that provide our healthcare teams with vital information such as blood flow and electrical activity in the brain and how well nerves are conducting electrical impulses to muscles. Armed with this information, Halifax Health’s Comprehensive Stroke Center can diagnose and treat patients more successfully.

The following diagnostic studies are performed at Halifax Health:

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan is generally the first diagnostic test done after a patient with a suspected stroke arrives in the emergency room. It is used to quickly distinguish between an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke. The test involves the use of low-dose x-rays to visualize the brain.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced diagnostic tool that provides a high level of anatomic detail for precisely locating the stroke and determining the extent of damage. Due to its high level of sensitivity, MRI is considered especially useful when the stroke involves small blood vessels. The technology involves use of a strong magnetic field, and is performed in a special room free of metallic equipment.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of your brain. Special sensors (electrodes) are attached to your head and hooked by wires to a computer. The computer records your brain’s electrical activity on the screen or on paper as wavy lines. Certain conditions, such as seizures, can be seen by the changes in the normal pattern of the brain’s electrical activity.
  • PET Scanning, which measures brain cell metabolism, can determine if brain tissue is functioning even if blood flow to that area appears to be diminished
  • Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE) involves placing a flexible tube in the esophagus to directly image the heart.
  • Carotid Duplex Scanning is a noninvasive study to diagnose blockage in the carotid arteries. This technology involves recording sound waves (ultrasound) that reflect the velocity of blood flow.
  • Cerebral Angiography (angiogram) is a diagnostic study that requires injection of a contrast dye through access in major artery (usually the femoral artery in the thigh) for evaluation of blood flow to the brain. This procedure is completed in Halifax Health’s Endovascular/Special Procedures Radiology Lab. The procedure time is approximately two to three hours; bed rest for six hours is required after the procedure.