Who might have a CT scan?
If you are taken to the emergency room because you experienced stroke symptoms, a CT scan is the first test you will have to determine if you have had a stroke or TIA. Doctors can tell from a CT scan if you have bleeding in the brain, and can rule out other causes of stroke symptoms such as a brain tumor.
Women who are eligible for treatment with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the first-choice treatment for blocked-vessel stroke, will usually have a CT scan before treatment to rule out bleeding. The sooner you receive treatment the better off you are, so the usual goal is to have a CT scan within 25 minutes of arriving at the emergency room.3
Even if you do not arrive in time to receive tPA, or are not eligible for it for other reasons, a CT scan can provide valuable information about the location, size, and type of problem causing your symptoms. This can guide decisions for other treatments, such as surgery or catheter-based procedures.