ut treatment—can open spontaneously, open partially or remain blocked. These blockages can stop blood flow to the brain and increase the patient’s risk for stroke and other neurological episodes such as chronic headache.
"In cases where the patient has an ongoing partial or full blockage," Leach explains, "the blood clot ‘organizes’ into a more solid lesion, forms connective scar tissue and can develop small vessels in an attempt to restore blood flow. This was very difficult to diagnose correctly using previous techniques."
"We don’t fully understand why this happens, but being able to recognize the imaging characteristics of the condition earlier may help us explain patient symptoms—like persistent headache—that otherwise cannot be explained," he adds.
With additional research, Leach believes, this combined imaging approach may one day help physicians formulate better treatment regimens and possibly prevent more serious medical complications for certain patients.
"If we can more easily characterize the patient’s problem as chronic instead of acute, it could alter the way we prescribe anticoagulation (clot-busting) drugs to treat the symptoms," says Leach. "Further research is needed to see if this can effectively impact patient therapy clinically."
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