(HealthDay News) — The optic nerve may provide clues to a stroke patient’s survival, a new study indicates. The findings were scheduled to be presented on Wednesday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference, held from Feb. 11 to 13 in Nashville, Tenn.

The study included 86 stroke patients suspected of having increased intracranial pressure. They all underwent ultrasound to assess the optic nerve sheath.

Among patients with ischemic strokes, the average diameter of the sheath was 5.82 mm in those who later died, compared with 5.33 mm in those who survived. In patients with hemorrhagic stroke, the average diameter of the sheath was 6.23 mm in those who later died, compared to 5.72 mm in those who survived. For every millimeter increase in sheath diameter, the risk of death within six months was four times higher in patients with ischemic stroke, and six times higher in those with hemorrhagic stroke. The investigators also found that the larger the diameter of the optic nerve sheath, the greater a patient’s risk of being disabled six months after a stroke.

According to study author Vishnumurthy Hedna, M.D., an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, the new test might help prompt doctors to treat stroke with medications to reduce pressure in the brain. Optic ultrasound is a simple safe, bedside test, Hedna said in an American Stroke Association news release. “Other methods are invasive, involve radiation, and are not cost-effective,” he added.

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