G.I. Ogbole1, M.O. Owolabi2, O. Ogun3, O.A. Ogunseyinde1 and A. Ogunniyi2

  1. Department of Radiology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  2. Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
  3. Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.


Background: Neuroimaging is the cornerstone for guiding thrombolytic and
interventional therapy for stroke. Beneficial outcome can only be obtained within a rather short time of less than 3-4.5 hours of symptom onset. Challenges in developing countries like Nigeria often lead to delayed presentation of stroke patients in hospitals. We sought to study the time and pattern of presentation of stroke patients for CT imaging in a Nigerian tertiary hospital.

Methods: Of the 271 stroke patients who had cranial CT between 2008 and 2010, eighty-three (30.6%) with full retrievable CT records, were included in this study. They were categorized into six time groups cross-tabulated with their CT findings.

Results: Forty-two patients (50.6%) had cerebral infarction while 23 (27.7%) had haemorrhagic stroke. However, 18 (21.7%) patients had apparently normal CT findings. The mean presentation time for CT imaging was 70 hours (SD ±94 hours). Only 31% of all stroke patients presented for CT imaging within 12 hours, and none, within 3 hours. Forty-six percent did not present within 24 hours of symptom onset. Significantly more patients with ischemic stroke (72.3%) than hemorrhagic stroke (27.7%) presented after 12 hours of ictus (X2 = 4.027 d=1, P =0.045). Age (X2=0.008, P =0.931) and gender (X21.742, d=1,P =0.187) had no
statistically significant relationship with the time of presentation for CT imaging.

Conclusion: None of our patients met the time criteria for thrombolytic therapy. Ischemic stroke patients presented for imaging later than patients with intracerebral haemorrhage. There is a need to increase the awareness regarding early recognition, presentation and diagnosis of stroke for timely intervention in Nigeria.

Keywords: Time, Stroke, CT Imaging, Nigeria


Dr. Godwin I. Ogbole
Department of Radiology,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Mobile: 2348023518204
Email: gogbole@yahoo.com


Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide,1 with over two-thirds of these deaths occurring in developing regions of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) 2. Stroke has remained a leading cause of morbidity worldwide leaving up to 50% of its survivors chronically disabled with reduced health related quality of life and depression.2, 3

The incidence of stroke in developing countries like Nigeria is expected to rise in the future as the population undergoes a “health transition”, from less of infectious diseases, and diseases related to poverty and malnutrition to more of non-communicable diseases. Stroke is broadly classified into ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.1,4 The current prevalence of stroke in Nigeria is 1.14 per 1000 while the 30-day case fatality rate is as high as 40%.3 A changing pattern with an increasing frequency of hemorrhagic stroke has been reported in our population.5 Due to the substantial economic, social and medical problems stroke poses worldwide, there is a need to reduce its effects, by prompt institution of intensive management which has imaging diagnosis at its foundation and core.

The diagnosis and determination of stroke type requires neuroimaging with computed tomography (CT).6 A detailed history and imaging will usually exclude stroke mimics. A brain CT is usually the first line imaging modality required to differentiate ischemic from haemorrhagic stroke.6-8 With the increasing availability of CT scanners in Nigeria and increased scanner sensitivity for ischemic stroke, it is recommended that a suspected stroke patient should have a CT within 3 hours of symptom onset to allow for appropriate intervention to arrest progression of neurological deficits.6,9-12 However, early stroke presentation in developing countries, within this limited time window is extremely difficult for several reasons; ranging from poor stroke recognition to limited socioeconomic and infrastructural facilities13-16.

The CT scan presentation time for stroke patients has been shown to differ from one center to the other across countries. In developing countries like Nigeria, the presentation time of stroke patients for imaging has not been determined and delays in imaging are common even in developed countries 11-15. We set out to determine the time lag between stroke onset and acquisition of brain CT in patients presenting to our Radiology Department with recognized features of stroke.