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Old 01-28-2013, 05:43 AM   #1
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what kind of brain tests and how long do they take?

I need to know what tests might be run on a person who originally presented in the ER with a very bad headache, then "died" clinically, for 30 minutes, then woke back up. And I also need to know how long an MRI brain scan takes. I had one years ago, but can't remember....
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:05 AM   #2
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I went though something similar, but it was many years ago. For me they were looking for a brain tumor (they found no tumor . . . nor much of a brain either). At that time I had a CAT scan rather than an MRI and an EEG test (back then they used to glue wires to your head).

Someone else probably has more recent knowledge of what's done now.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:46 PM   #3
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After initial presentation to the ER....a CT scan would be more likely than an MRI. EEG, blood pressure and blood tests (clotting factors especially) would also be taken. If the patient showed signs of a fever or other meningococcal symptoms (photophobia, stiff neck) they'd probably want a lumbar puncture too.

After that, they'd probably want to investigate systemic causes of the patient's 'death-like' state. It'll depend a lot on what preceded it. Did the patient have a seizure? Were they coherent and lucid? Were they feverish, vomiting? I suspect they'd want to check the heart function too - (probably with an echocardiogram.)
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:16 PM   #4
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Check for CO poisoning? I know from experience it's like having your head in a vice.
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:18 PM   #5
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I'm no doctor but I did go to the hospital with a horrible headache one time. I didn't fake die, though.

They took me in, I was kinda out of it due to the pain, I think they gave me a sedative and an anti-nausea drug that's supposed to be good for migraines (which is was not my issue). Then they rolled me back and did a CT scan. Then they just pumped stuff into me for a while until I fell asleep.

The next day they scheduled the MRI. I went in about a week later and they did the thing. I think it took an hour, and they did the normal MRI and the one where they inject you with dye.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haunted View Post
I need to know what tests might be run on a person who originally presented in the ER with a very bad headache, then "died" clinically, for 30 minutes, then woke back up. And I also need to know how long an MRI brain scan takes. I had one years ago, but can't remember....
The problem with headaches is that it is the most common symptom of a plethora of ills, from insect bites to food poisoning to concussion to stroke to allergic reaction to ... whatever.

Before any scan or tests take place, the accompanying family member (and the patient when she wakes up) will be asked a ton of questions. Since when? Any head injury in the past 48 hrs? Other systemic clues - vomiting / nausea, stiff neck, pupil dilation, skin discoloration / rash / injuries, etc.?

The list of clues will point to a few hypothesis to check for.

-cb
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:01 PM   #7
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I recall the MRI being about a half hour in the machine. No dye.
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Old 01-29-2013, 12:28 AM   #8
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The expected tests for someone with a severe headache and then loss of consciousness would be a CT scan, some bloodwork (a complete blood count, electrolytes, renal and hepatic panels, drug screen - for drugs of abuse as well as accidental overdose, and a blood test for carbon monoxide [carboxyhemoglobin level] would also be reasonable, depending on the specialty of the treating provider a few other blood tests might be added, based on what they suspected as the cause), and possibly a lumbar puncture.

An MRI is almost never done in an emergency situation -- its results are almost never relevant to emergency care. An EEG is almost never done emergently for the same reason. These tests would be done over the days following to figure out what hapenned, but not on the night of the event.

Of course if the death-like thing happenned in the ER, they would do CPR and put in a breathing tube, attach a cardiac monitor, draw blood gasses (those are like the other blood work, but are drawn from an artery rather than a vein), and probably a chest x-ray
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:24 PM   #9
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Had cancer three years ago. I had to endure three PET scans (provides more accurate map of tumor than MRI or CAT to help proton gun attack growth). Took about 45 minutes each test. Had no problem with test rather process. They pump radioactive isotope into ya before test then feed you glucose (absorbed by tumor). Have to sit in semi dark for an hour while stuff is adsorbed by the body. By 30 minutes into the test you have to pee so damn bad with all the liquid intake but if you stop em, you start all over. Cost is insane (7800 per go round)
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Old 01-29-2013, 06:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haunted View Post
presented in the ER with a very bad headache, then "died" clinically, for 30 minutes, then woke back up
Do you have any cause of headache in mind?
Or, can you narrow down the type of headache:
- sudden, unexpected headache without the history of this type of headache, developed in minutes due to stroke or ruptured brain aneurysm
- rapidly developing (minutes/hours) headache following a head injury or poisoning with carbon monoxide, or infection, like meningitis or encephalitis, or metabolic problem, like liver failure (in cirrhosis) or kidney failure
- slowly developing (weeks/months) headache caused by a brain tumor
- recurring attacks several times a month in cluster headache

The order of investigations greatly depends on the suspected causes.

Here are main causes and a quick description of sudden severe headaches.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:07 PM   #11
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Young woman, perfect health, sudden headache, then died, and they can't find any cause later....
Quote:
Originally Posted by boron View Post
Do you have any cause of headache in mind?
Or, can you narrow down the type of headache:
- sudden, unexpected headache without the history of this type of headache, developed in minutes due to stroke or ruptured brain aneurysm
- rapidly developing (minutes/hours) headache following a head injury or poisoning with carbon monoxide, or infection, like meningitis or encephalitis, or metabolic problem, like liver failure (in cirrhosis) or kidney failure
- slowly developing (weeks/months) headache caused by a brain tumor
- recurring attacks several times a month in cluster headache

The order of investigations greatly depends on the suspected causes.

Here are main causes and a quick description of sudden severe headaches.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:15 AM   #12
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Well, a sudden headache could also be a sign of a stroke. But if they can't find a cause, then I guess that's not really what you had in mind. But I agree with everyone else, they would do the ct scan first. Plus tons of taking family history. They'd ask about environmental factors, etc.
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