UMEM Educational Pearls

In patients presenting to the ER with a TIA (transient ischemic attack), the classic teaching has been to calculate their ABCD2 score (age, blood pressure, clinical features, duration of episode and diabetes) to determine their risk of developing a stroke.

The problem is, a moderate-to-high ABCD2 score is sensitive (86%) but not specific (35%) for a stroke in 7 days. 

The solution: Combining imaging data with the scoring system!

The presence of an acute infarct on a diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) in a patient with an ABCD2 score of 4 or more carries the highest risk of stroke, at 14.9% at 7 days. On the other hand, a negative DWI predicts a 0-2% stroke risk at 7 days irrelevant of the ABCD2 score.


Panagos P D. Transiet Ischemic Attacks (TIA): the initial diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma. AJEM (2012) 30: 794-799