Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Ischemic Stroke: An Algorithm for Evaluation and Treatment


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21 Scopus citations


To report a cost-effective and scientifically based algorithm for the clinical assessment and treatment of patients with transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor ischemic stroke. We comprehensively reviewed the literature on the epidemiologic features, assessment approaches, and treatment recommendations for ischemic cerebrovascular disease and developed an algorithm by using the available clinical and research data to support all decision-making steps. For patients with TIA or minor ischemic stroke, the appropriate setting for investigation (inpatient or outpatient), suggested diagnostic tests, use of anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents, and indications for surgical treatment are reviewed. Although stroke is a common cause of death and lost productivity in the United States, the clinical assessment of patients with TIA or minor ischemic stroke has lacked consistency. The simplified algorithm clarifies patients who may be candidates for hospitalization and possible anticoagulation therapy. Initial diagnostic studies should include computed tomography of the head without use of a contrast agent, which quickly distinguishes nonhemorrhagic from hemorrhagic cerebrovascular disease. Evolving noninvasive studies of the cerebral vasculature are providing increasingly sensitive means of detecting stenoses, yet cerebral angiography remains the “gold standard.” Treatment options depend on the pathophysiologic findings on diagnostic evaluation. The assessment of patients with ischemic cerebrovascular disease is complex. The simplified algorithmic approach reported herein necessitates entry of appropriate patients into the algorithm. Because of clinical heterogeneity, an algorithm may apply to a wide spectrum of patients but will not cover every situation; hence, evaluation must be guided by a patient's unique history and findings on examination and by the physician's clinical experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1039
Number of pages13
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1994


  • CT
  • ICA
  • MRA
  • OPG
  • TCD
  • TEE
  • TIA
  • computed tomographic
  • internal carotid artery
  • magnetic resonance angiography
  • ocular pneumoplethysmography
  • transcranial Doppler ultrasonography
  • transesophageal echocardiography
  • transient ischemic attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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