Echoplanar magnetic resonance imaging (EPI) enables rapid, non-invasive imaging and analysis of cerebral pathophysiology in acute stroke. It represents an important clinical advance over computed tomography (CT) and conventional magnetic resonance (MR) scanning. It can rapidly delineate infarcted cerebral tissue and distinguish acute from chronic stroke. In addition, EPI has the potential to quickly determine the presence and degree of potentially viable brain tissue in the ischaemic penumbra. Thrombolysis is thought to reperfuse the penumbra and hence reduce infarct size. The thrombolytic agent tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) improves outcome in ischaemic stroke when administered within the first 3 hours of onset. However, there is a significant risk of haemorrhage, and the time window for benefit may well exceed 3 hours in some patients. Hence, by facilitating diagnosis of 'at-risk' tissue in the ischaemic penumbra, a major clinical role of EPI may well become the rational selection of patients for acute interventional stroke therapy. (C) 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
- Magnetic resonance imaging