Rare Children's Strokes Sometimes Misdiagnosed02/04/11
FRIDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new pediatric study focused
on hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke suggests that children who
suffer a stroke may experience treatment delays because emergency
rooms and paramedics often lack the appropriate tools to diagnose
"Stroke in children is rare, but it does exist," study author Dr. Franz Babl, of Royal Children's Hospital and Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, said in a news release.
"Stroke patients in our study had previously been generally healthy, unlike their adult counterparts," Babl noted. "Because pediatric stroke is so rare, it's not the first thing we look for. Stroke symptoms in children are frequently attributed to other, more common problems, such as migraine, seizures or encephalitis."
Babl and his colleagues report their findings in the Feb. 2
online issue of the
Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The authors stressed how important it is that stroke symptoms be
identified quickly among young patients.
They also noted that earlier pediatric studies on stroke
diagnosis have focused primarily on acute ischemic strokes, even
though this type of stroke only accounts for half of all childhood
strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes accounts for the other half, they
In their current medical record review, the team examined 80
young stroke cases and found that most of the children had
experienced an immediate onset of symptoms, with 47 suffering an
ischemic stroke and 31 a hemorrhagic stroke.
Ischemic stroke was often accompanied by limb and facial
weakness, while hemorrhagic stroke was marked by headaches and
Yet despite their different presentations, diagnosis by means of
computer tomography was not always successful in identifying the
type of pediatric stroke at hand: it caught all the cases of
hemorrhagic stroke, but only half of the ischemic cases,
A better way of diagnosing the latter, the authors suggested,
would be MRI.
"The symptoms and signs of acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke are similar in adults and children, but in children stroke is not considered early enough and patients do not receive brain imaging early enough," said Dr. Babl. "Rapid recognition, response and treatment of children with stroke will start with the development of pediatric brain attack protocols in the emergency department and pre-hospital setting. This study is a first step toward achieving that goal."
For the more information on pediatric stroke, visit the
American Heart Association.
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