Differentiating Childhood Stroke From Mimics in the Emergency Department
Background and Purpose—Clinical identification of stroke in the pediatric emergency department is critical for improving access to hyperacute therapies. We identified key clinical features associated with childhood stroke or transient ischemic attack compared with mimics.
Methods—Two hundred and eighty consecutive children presenting to the emergency department with mimics, prospectively recruited over 18 months from 2009 to 2010, were compared with 102 children with stroke or transient ischemic attack, prospectively/retrospectively recruited from 2003 to 2010.
Results—Cerebrovascular diagnoses included arterial ischemic stroke (55), hemorrhagic stroke (37), and transient ischemic attack (10). Mimic diagnoses included migraine (84), seizures (46), Bell’s palsy (29), and conversion disorders (18). Being well in the week before presentation (odds ratio [OR] 5.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.25–14.79), face weakness (OR 2.94, 95% CI 1.19–7.28), arm weakness (OR 8.66, 95% CI, 2.50–30.02), and inability to walk (OR 3.38, 95% CI 1.54–7.42) were independently associated with increased odds of stroke diagnosis. Other symptoms were independently associated with decreased odds of stroke diagnosis (OR 0.28, 95% CI 0.10–0.77). Associations were not observed between seizures or loss of consciousness. Factors associated with stroke differed by arterial and hemorrhagic subtypes.
Conclusions—Being well in the week before presentation, inability to walk, face and arm weakness are associated with increased odds of stroke. The lack of positive or negative association between stroke and seizures or loss of consciousness is an important difference to adults. Pediatric stroke pathways and bedside tools need to factor in differences between children and adults and between stroke subtypes.
- Received May 24, 2016.
- Revision received July 14, 2016.
- Accepted July 19, 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors.
Stroke is published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wolters Kluwer. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial-NoDervis License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that the original work is properly cited, the use is noncommercial, and no modifications or adaptations are made.