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The Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospital



Anastomosis (plural – anastomoses) - A coalescence, or interconnecting network, of blood vessels

Aneurysm - An abnormal bulging sac created in the wall of a blood vessel, especially and artery. Typically due to a structural weakness in the vessel. Main categories of aneurysms include: fusiform and berry.

Anoxia - Absence of oxygen.

Anticoagulants - Medications used to decrease clotting capability in the blood. Anticoagulant drugs fall into three groups: inhibitors of clotting factor synthesis, inhibitors of thrombin and antiplatelet drugs.

Antiplatelets - A category of anticoagulant medications used to decrease clotting capability in the blood.

Antithrombotics - Medications used to prevent formation of blood clots.

Arachnoid - One of the three protective membranes surrounding the brain that collectively are called the meninges.

Arteriosclerosis - A chronic disease characterized by abnormal thickening and hardening of the arterial walls with resulting loss of elasticity.

Arteriovenous fitula (AVF) - A combination of blood vessels with abnormal connections.

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) - An abnormal connection between arteries and veins. Common problems associated with AVMs are rupture (hemorrhagic stroke) or pressure on brain (resulting in seizures)

Artery - A vessel that carries the blood (transporting oxygen and nutrients) from the heart to tissues throughout the body. Arteries are supposed to be more muscular and elastic than veins because the blood pumping through them is under more pressure.

Atherosclerosis - A buildup of plaque in large and medium-sized arteries.

Atrial Fibrillation - The most common form of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and a risk factor for embolic ischemic stroke. The condition can cause a pooling of blood in the heart, which can make it easier for clots to form.

Blood Platelets - Small, disk-shaped bodies in the blood that have an important role in blood clotting: they form the initial plug at the rupture site of a blood vessel.
Brain Attack Another name for stroke.

Brainstem - Centrally located within the cranial vault. 3 primary functions:

  • Involved w/sensory input and motor output for the head by way of the cranial nerves.
  • Functions as a thoroughfare for information trafficking between the brain and spinal cord.
  • Regulates the individuals’ state of arousal and other vital functions of the body, such as respiration, blood pressure and heart rate.

Carotid arteries - Two major arteries, one on either side of the neck, that carry blood to the head.

Carotid stenosis - Buildup of hardened plaque on the carotid artery wall. This is the leading cause of ischemic stroke.

Cerebellum - Located at the back of the brain, the cerebellum controls body movement, i.e., balance, walking, etc.

Cerebral angiography - A radiology procedure using x-ray and opaque dye that helps identify abnormalities of the blood vessels within the brain.

Cerebral Edema - Swelling of the brain.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) - Fluid surrounding the brain that acts as a cushion.

Cerebrovascular accident - Another name for stroke.

Cerebrum - The brain’s largest section. It can be divided into two parts: the left and right cerebral hemispheres. These hemispheres are joined by the corpus callosum, which enables "messages" to be delivered between the two halves. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. Each hemisphere also has four lobes that are responsible for different functions: frontal (behavior, emotions, problem solving); temporal (short-term memory, identification of sound and smell); parietal (touch, language comprehension), and occipital (visual processing, shape and color identification).

Cholesterol - A soft fat-like substance that, in moderate amounts, is essential for healthy cell membranes. Excess amount of “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) can combine with other substances in the body to produce a plaque-like substance that can clog the arteries. “Good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) can help reduce bad-cholesterol levels.

Circle of Willis - An intercommunicating set of arteries derived from the principal arteries supplying blood flow to significant portions of the brain.
ciitocoline A “second generation” thrombolitic medication used for IV or intra-arterial rescue in ischemic stroke.

Clinical trials - These studies involve patients in the testing of new treatments and therapies and are part of the drug approval process in America. A clinical trial, which typically has three stages, or phases, gauges a drug’s safety, effectiveness, dosage requirements, and side effects. Patients must meet certain criteria to be enrolled in a clinical trial (which is determined for each individual study), and participation in a study is voluntary. Clinical trials are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and other healthcare-related organizations; many are based at research universities or hospitals. A set of rules, or protocol, is established for each trial.

Computed Axial Tomography scan (CAT scan or CT scan) - A diagnostic imaging technique in which a computer reads x-rays to create a three-dimensional map of the brain.

Craniotomy - A surgical procedure with an incision through the skill into the brain.

Cranium - Another name for the skull, the bony enclosure that protects the brain.

CT scan - (computed axial tomography scan) A diagnostic imaging technique in which a computer reads x-rays to create a three-dimensional map of the brain.

CVA - Stands for cerebrovascular accident. Another name for stroke.

Dizocilpine - A “second generation” thrombolytic medication used for IV or intra-arterial rescue in ischemic stroke.

Dysarthria - Difficulty in articulating words due to disease of the central nervous system.

Dysphasia - Loss of or deficiency in the power to use or understand language as a result of injury to or disease of the brain.

Dura mater - One of the three protective membranes surrounding the brain that collectively are called the meninges.

Embolic stroke - Occurs when a blood clot forms elsewhere in the body (usually the heart) and travels through the bloodstream to the brain. In the brain, the clot reaches a vessel it cannot pass through and blocks the flow of oxygen-carrying blood.

Embolus - A blood clot that moves from one area of the body to another.

Endovascular Coiling procedure - Treatment of an aneurysm using tiny coils to block the aneurysm (ruptured or not ruptured) that is placed by working within the blood vessel.

Hemiparesis - One-sided weakness

Hemiplegia - One-sided paralysis

Hemorrhage - Abnormal internal or external discharge of blood.

Hemorrhagic - Stroke Interruption of the blood supply to an area of the brain caused by a break or rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. About 20% of strokes occur this way.

Hemorrhagic stroke – intracerebral - Bleeding occurs from vessels within brain itself. 10% of all strokes are this type. Hypertension and aging blood vessels are the primary causes

Hemorrhagic stroke – subarachnoid - Caused by an aneurysm that bursts in a large artery or near the thin, delicate membrane surrounding the brain.

Hypertension - Abnormally high arterial blood pressure:

  • such blood pressure occurring w/out apparent or determinable prior organic changes in the tissues (possibly because of hereditary tendency, emotional tensions, faulty nutrition or hormonal influence
  • such blood pressure

Hypothalamus - The part of the brain that acts as a messenger to the pituitary gland. Also plays an integral role in body temperature, sleep, appetite, and sexual behavior.

Hypoxia - A deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues of the body.

Infarct; Infarction - Tissue death resulting from an inadequate supply of oxygen, due to a reduction or lack of blood flow to the area.

Ischemia - Inadequate oxygen supply to tissue caused by reduced blood flow to the tissue.

Lacuna - A small cavity, pit or discontinuity in an anatomical structure

Lipids - Organic compounds that are insoluble in water – such as fats, oils and waxes. These are culprits in plaque buildup in blood vessels.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) - A non-invasive imaging procedure of the blood vessels in the brain.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - A non-invasive diagnostic test that produces three-dimensional images of body structures using powerful magnets and computer technology rather than x-rays.

Medulla oblongata - The section of the brain stem connecting the brain to the spinal cord. It is responsible for involuntary functions such as breathing, heart rhythms, and swallowing.

Meninges - The collective term for the three membranes that envelop the brain: the dura mater (farthest out), the arachnoid membrane (the next in) and the pia mater (closest to the brain).

Midbrain - Part of the brain stem, it is the origin of the third and fourth cranial nerves, which control eye movement and eyelid opening.

Moyamoya disease - A rare, progressive cerebrovascular disorder characterized by the narrowing or occlusion of major blood vessels leading into the brain, and the formation of abnormal blood vessels called moyamoya vessels.

Neuroprotectants - Calcium channel blockers and other inhibitors that may extend the window of viability for the penumbra. Results are inconclusive because in clinical trials so far, the neuroprotectants were unable to reach the area of the brain suffering damage because passage was blocked.

Nimodipine - A “second generation” thrombolitic medication used for IV or intra-arterial rescue in ischemic stroke.

Pathology - The study of the essential nature of diseases and especially of the structural and function changes produced by them.

Pia mater - One of the three protective membranes surrounding the brain that collectively are called the meninges.

Recombinant tissue Plasminogen Activator (rtPA) - A genetically engineered form of tPA, which is made naturally by the body, used to dissolve clots during ischemic stroke.

Sclerosis - A pathological condition in which a tissue has become hard and which is produced by overgrowth of fibrous tissue and other changes (as in arteriosclerosis).

Stenosis - A narrowing of a blood vessel.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage - Bleeding in the space between two tissues covering the brain, the pia and the arachnoid.

Subarachnoid space - The space between the arachnoid and the pia mater membranes surrounding the brain that provides a labyrinth of interconnecting passageways throughout the brain. All the major arteries of the brain are located in this space, which is important to the physician in determining the type of cerebrovascular accident (CVA), or stroke, the patient is experiencing.

Thalamus - A small area in the brain that relays information to and from the cortex and translates impulses related to pain, attention, and alertness.

Thrombin - A protein produced by the body that plays an important role in the blood clotting process.

Thrombin inhibitor - A type of anticoagulant medication used to help prevent formation of harmful blood clots in the body by blocking the activity of thrombin.
Thrombotic stroke Most common type of stroke. Occurs when clot originates in one of the vessels in the brain. Can be from buildup of fatty deposits or cholesterol

Thrombotic stroke - Large vessel thrombosis - Thrombotic stroke occurs most often in large arteries. In most cases, it’s caused by a combo of long-term atherosclerosis, followed by rapid blood clot formation

Thrombotic stroke - Small vessel disease (Lacunar infarction) - Occurs when blood flow is blocked to a very small arterial vessel.

Thrombus - A blood clot that adheres to a vessel wall.

Tirilazad - A “second generation” thrombolitic medication used for IV or intra-arterial rescue in ischemic stroke.

Ultrasound - The use of high-frequency sound to create images of internal body structures.

Vasospasm - Narrowing of a blood vessel, typically in response to the initial rupture of an aneurysm.

Vein - Vessels that carry blood back to the heart from various parts of the body. They have thinner walls than the arteries because the blood they are carrying is under less pressure.

X-ray - Application of electromagnetic radiation to produce a film or picture of a bone or soft-tissue area of the body.