Brain Neurorehabil.  2018 Mar;11(1):e9. 10.12786/bn.2018.11.e9.

Clinical Characteristics of Stroke Mimics Presenting to a Stroke Center within the Therapeutic Window of Thrombolysis

  • 1Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • 2Department of Neurosciences, Academic Neurosciences Centre, King's College London, London, UK.
  • 3Neuroscience Center, King Fahad Specialist Hospital Dammam, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.


This study aimed at identifying the frequency and final diagnoses of stroke mimics (SMs) among suspected stroke cases, and seeking differences in clinical & imaging features between SMs and true strokes. It was retrospective with data taken from an ongoing stroke registry for patients admitted to a Stroke Unit between 1 May and 31 October 2011. Baseline characteristics, clinical & imaging features, complications, and outcomes of SMs were compared to those with true strokes by appropriate statistical tests. The total number of cases admitted was 537. Only 232 (43.2%) of them presented during the critical time thrombolytic intervention. SMs comprised 15.9% of all suspected stroke cases. The commonest mimics were psychiatric disorders (43.2%), migraines (16.2%), seizures (8.1%), brain tumors (5.4%), and systemic infections (5.4%). SMs were younger, more common in females, with less evidence of preexisting hypertension (43.2% vs. 56.9% for true strokes). Hemianopia (p = 0.001), sensory inattention, neglect or both (p < 0.001) were more associated with true strokes, while cerebellar, brainstem signs or both (p = 0.045) excluding dysarthria were linked only to SMs. Acute ischemic signs in imaging scans were found linked to true strokes. Some clinical and imaging characteristics were found to differentiate to some extent between SMs and true strokes.


Stroke; Frequency; Thrombolytic Therapy; Differential Diagnosis
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