Has anyone had TIAs but nothing showed on the MRI scan?

I had 2 TIAs and a scan which showed nothing then I had another I just collapse in a heap.My GP said you should have gone to A and E I have an appointment to see Prof Hughes in September but has anyone else had these collapses? The last one was really scary and I was very shaken but didn't go to A and E as I couldn't bare to be told its nothing again and I'm wasting people's time

40 Replies

  • I believe I had one in 2011. I got out of bed and fell into a chair by my bed because of extreme burning pain in my right thigh. I got up and took a step and fell to the carpet. Stood up, "kind of laughing as I'm such a klutz" and my wife asked me if I was alright I said yes (laughing). I took another step and fell to the carpet again. Got up again and walked into the restroom. Started to walk out and I blacked out and fell hitting my head and landing in the walk-in closet. My wife has filled me in as I simply don't remember some things.

    My wife turned the light on in the bathroom and was watching me at this point, I guess I turned around in the walk in closet and faced her on all four as I could not get up.

    I crawled a few feet and collapsed to the floor. Something seriously was going on in my head and I felt at that moment I was not going to make it. She asked me if I wanted her to call 911. Although I did, I could not speak, I tried. She asked me again and I "screamed" yes only to be heard as a whisper.

    I remember feeling that a need to get up and off the floor. I looked to my right and my right eye or vision was blurry as I was looking for something to hang onto to stand up. I tried pushing myself up as if starting a push up and I collapsed/fell to the floor again. This happened two more times as I did not have the strength in my arms.

    I looked to the left and grabbed the towel rack off the wall trying to get up. I was able to pull my legs under me onto all fours and crawled to a chair in our bedroom.

    I knew I needed to get downstairs for when the paramedics arrive as a gurney up our stairs would not be easy. I sat on the couch as they arrived quickly.

    They started asking me questions and I noticed I was slurring my words. I told them this to bring it to their attention.

    Arrived at ER and they advised me they thought I had a "syncope incident". I was released with a BP of 66/46.

    My neurologist who I think "does not believe in APS" says I have not had any strokes. I do not believe syncope reacts as described above. I believe I also had a TIA in 2010 while in ER.

    Not sure if this helps.

  • Yes, thankyou it helps to hear other people's experiences


  • Your description of events was very similar to what happened to me except I had a thunderclap pain at the back of my head as though something had exploded suddenly when my legs and sight went. The paramedics thought I was having a migraine! So did the A&E Doc! Until my Neurologist called and told them it was not a Migraine but the stroke did not show up on the CT. It was only 2 days later that it did. So had I been sent home with a so called migraine and the second CT not done, it does not bear thinking about. I have been told that its quite common for it not to show immediately and to repeat it after a day or so.

    I dont know the relevance of an MRI though and if that would be the same.

  • I can only speak from my own experiences but I have recently been told unless an APS specialist is looking at the results of your MRI they can miss an awful lot because often the white matter only appears as microscopic dots. These are often dismissed as not important by non specialist doctor's who don't know what to look for.

  • Sorry meant to say there can be evidence of microscopic dots with a TIA but not a stroke. A stroke shows up as white matter but larger on an MRI as well as a CAT scan - but as I said this is just my experience say it may not apply to everyone.

  • I also suffered the infamous and debilitating thunderclap pain - on the left side of my head end of March 2010 while at work. There were several of them actually. Vision in my left eye went fuzzy, and I suddenly became super sensitive to fluorescent lights - crucially, I started badly mispronouncing words I'd known all my life. I shook like a leaf and struggled to stay on my feet. They wanted to call an Ambulance but I told them not to and to take me home instead (big mistake!) and they did take me home..!!! (At that point, I really wasn't all there). It was another 2 days before still groggy I stumbled into a walk-in-clinic still very unwell and was redirected straight to CMH A&E. On arrival, I was in a bed within 3 minutes. I was in there for nine days. MRI Scans revealed nothing! A lumbar puncture did reveal some distinct (protein?) anomaly in my Cerebrospinal Fluid but it was never followed up! After that, I was off work for a month. Those thunderclap headaches were horrendous! Never had them since though, luckily. But TIA's continue.

  • Hi thankyou I didn't realise that it only shows up a couple of days later

    This website is the best as someone always knows an answer no matter what the question.You all do an excellent job

    Manx at

  • I dint say that it always shows up 2 days later but CAN do so. My Consultant told me it was not unusual for that to happen. Hope I have cleared that up:-)

  • Yes thankyou

    Best Wishes


  • Hi thankyou for sharing your experiences with me it really helps

    Best Wishes


  • I had my first stroke 2003 (Dec 3d!), the hospital scanned (CT) immediately... radiographer said THEN it was a waste of time because it doesnt show up for 2-3 days!! Every time I have another incindent they scan immediadely, discover old damage (each worse than prev scan) & tell me I havent had another, keep me in a. Few days & I go home - except that first one. They sent me home, even though I couldnt move my limbs on my rt side, to be at home, alone with my toddler for Christmas...

  • Hi I can't even imagine what you went through alone with your toddler following a stroke unable to move your limbs but sent home! You have been through a terrible time, I hope things at the moment are a little easier for you? Thankyou for all your information

    Best Wishes


  • Tell Prof Hughes and if possible get a copy of your MRI images. He will look at them and tell you the truth. Ask now for copy will prob take a few months to sort out. Good luck xxx

  • Hi yes I will get onto it on Monday thankyou

  • I think you have had some good replies that seem to confirm my thoughts on this problem. The results depend on three factors, the quality of the scan, whether a stain was used ad who reads the scan. I had had an MRI that the radiographer (the one who performs the CT or MRI) told me it showed white matter lesions, but not any sign of a current clot, which was OK as it did take 3 months to get an appointment for the scan. The Radiologist (the person responsible for reading and reporting on the scan) looked at it and said the same. The Neurologist looked at it and sent a report to my GP, who had requested the scan, which read that the scan showed no sign of ischemic events.

    A year later a new Rheumatologist looked at a digital copy of the scan sent to him and he showed it to me on a large screen. He took a long time showing me the small white dots that looked like a star constellation within the white matter of my brain and explained they could possibly have been caused by micro-clotting events and were not difficult to see.

    Most doctors should be able to see that the results of a CT scan and a CT scan are totally different in colour or density and that a CT will be of little use with any form of micro-damage to tissue, which is why we should have an MRI with a stain to emphasize any damaged blood vessels, it still becomes difficult to differentiate lesions within the white matter, but should be able to be seen by a trained professional.

  • Hi thankyou for telling me your experiences, it helps

    Best wishes


  • My scary road to diagnosis was very similar. After slurry words and one side paralysis (which had partially resolved by the time I got to the ER) I was sent home and the ER doc chewed the ambulance staff out because they "obviously" had allowed me to "fool them" into thinking I was having a stroke! (Aren't I the talented one? Why didn't I go into acting?) (And would somebody please explain to me my motivation to do this? Its not like lieing a gurney in a drafty hall in an ER is an uplifing experience.) (OK. I"ll try to shelve the sarcasm. I'll try.)

    MRIs, X Rays, subsequent ER visits -- Finally there were several phone calls among concerned high school friends who had become doctors. Since they knew me personally, they knew that: 1, I can't act worth a darn, and 2, I was leading a near perfectly blissful non-stressful life and was very unlikely to be psychosomatic. These physician/friends arranged for me to make a 5 hour car journey to a hematologist in an adjoining state. My friends saved my life.

    My lesson from all this? If a patient presents with confusing symptoms its all part of some devious plot on the part of the patient to . . . (here the logic breaks down) . . . enjoy some uplifting time lieing on a gurney in a drafty hall? . . . sue the doctor for . . . . something? . . . . annoy the staff? . . . . maybe, turn on a concealed recording device while you're on that gurney to tape dramatic stories from other patients around you in hopes of finding good short story material? . . . get fashion ideas from comparing the various hospital staff scrub designs?

    -- stil haven't worked out my own devious motivations here. Help?


  • Hi I can fully understand what you have had to endure , luckily you have retained an excellent sense of humour!! Thankyou for sharing your experiences

    Best wishes


  • How did they save your life? What was your diagnosis?

  • Yes!!!

    I woke up one day unable to walk, with left sided weakness, a headache, funny speech. After a few days I went to the docs who sent me to hospital where I had a CT scan and I spent 2 weeks to be told nothing was wrong. !!

    I had to go through rehab to be able to walk again and improve my weakness.

    It happened numerous times again, but as I was told before that nothing was wrong with me I didn't bother seeing a doctor.

    Ten years later i got diagnosed with Hughes, I quite often think I am very lucky to be alive.


  • Hi I can understand after everything you've been through that you do feel lucky to be alive.At least now having been diagnosed with Hughes you are finally at the right place to get treated.Thankyou for telling me your experience it helps

    Best Wishes


  • Before being diagnosed with APS I had more tia's than I can honestly count (was having up to 6 a month) and had a stroke in 11/06. The story belongs in some horror novel, and we've already read enough of this. I am fortunate because although it did leave me with small deficit, and I could have died, I am basically ok. My MRI shows multiple white lesions and the radiologist reports that this is normal for someone of my age. At the time I was in my 50's and no one in my family had any history of stroke. My neurologist has me down as a 'migraine / trigeminal neuralgia / seizure' patient and treats me accordingly for those conditions. Although he acknowledges that I have APS he doesn't seem to think I have had tia's or stroke, but he doesn't say so.

    Because he is giving me the medicine I need I don't say anything. It is, of course, a travesty. My APS is being treated separately and has nothing to do with him, but the medical profession will someday look back on these days and realize how very little they knew about APS. I also feel so lucky to be alive but know it is also my own research which stretches beyond the closed minds of the medical profession.


  • Hi thankyou for telling me your experiences it really helps and I think your right about

    the medical profession

    Best wishes


  • Yes. I had numerous TIA's within a few months that did not show. I also had braces at the time which interfered with the images but doc still said there was no evidence of TIA. I then had the thunderclap sudden headache, went to ER and had CT. I was told it was normal and that I had a migraine. Don't buy it. I've had migraines for 30 years and I have never experienced anything like that in my life. It was like a switch was turned on and I was vomiting too which I rarely ever do with a migraine.

  • Hi thankyou for telling me your experiences it helps

    Best wishes


  • I believe I've had a few TIAs only gone to hospital with two, one in 2008 and one in 2009. A &E said TIA and I've been seen my rheumataologists, I've been told that I have vasculitis, lupus and APS and I'm treated with the usual azathoprine, steroids and annual rituximab also had one lot of cyclo back in 2009. My MRIs show some things but I've been told my neurologist that they are clear but rheumy has said there is something there. Neuro says I've never had a TIA but rheumy and A&E drs when admitted say I have. To be honest I think that they don't really know and we all seem to get different answers. Last year the neuro wanted me to have cyclo again and they were going to give it with the rituximab (I felt anxious and originally said no but then changed my mind, I didn't see my normally rheumy and they said no). My normally rheumy then wanted clarification from neuro of my MRI and he sent me for a new one. When I saw him after the new one he said there was no change from last one, when I brought up the cyclo he acted really shocked as if he wouldn't have said that. He looked back in my notes, found he had and then said that my MRI shows no active vasculitis so no need for cyclo. After I got out I thought "but if the MRI us the same as last one why did he want me to have it last year?".

    I go to my appointments and come out with more answers than when I went in!

    Sorry I've not helped you but I think maybe they are Tia's that we have as they present like that.

    Take care

  • Hi thankyou for telling me your experiences you have given me hope so I will not give up as I'm sure mine are TIAs like yours

    Best wishes


  • I think I might be having TIA's (between 2 and 6 a year for around 15 years) I usually refer to them as 'episodes' . I get a weird feeling that I don't have any words for a few hours before it starts - which is nasty, but useful. My vision and thoughts blur quite badly (something I suffer from regularly though) and then I feel extreamly drunk, slurred speach and inability to coordinate. Fortunately, my brain gets numb (can't think how else to describe it) before the pain really kicks in, I'd describe the sensation as having half of my head cave in (although its the right side, while many people are saying left?)- that's about when the fun starts. Although I've never vomited, the urge to is so strong (and at this point I don't remember anything- immediate physical needs over ride all) I drag myself in to a bathroom. And I mean drag! One side of my body stops working, the other is just week, so its a kind of knee and toe push along the floor. I'm burning by this point, and the promise of running water seems to make it worth while. Luckily, I usually black out before too long, and come round to find myself with pain like an intense hangover, one side of my body numb and week (but will move if I consent rate) an inability to speak and my (usually right) eye functioning so baddly I need to keep it closed. I also feel relieved, ad this is better than before. Lots of missing time, and it takes a couple of hours before I can crawl out and find a bed.

    I don't know if this is a TIA, but from the first time it happened (without any knowledge of these things) I believed my brain was bleeding. (I have considered some type of epilepsy, which doesnt make total sense, but I don't know) As I can't call for help, few have been witnessed. Although once I endured waking up to be slapped by my mum who assumed drugs! Various doctors have sent me for ECG's CT's and MRI's all totally clear (one even sent me an appointment to an alcohol clinic).

    The general consensus- I'm making it up. I do have a good imagination, shame I don't put it to better use than scaring myself silly

  • Hi thankyou for sharing your experiences it helps

    Best wishes


  • I also had a TIA that failed to show on the MRI (which was also performed immediately). I was actually in denial and surprised that they ruled out migraine and instead went with the TIA diagnosis.

    I think the fact that I had total blindness, and was transported via ambulance to the hospital (thanks to my coworker's insistence and quick action) helped give me credibility. It wasn't until they gave me the stroke assessment, and I couldn't remember simple things, that I realized something was seriously wrong.

    All this was prior to my APS diagnosis, and eventually helped in forming the missing puzzle piece to getting the ball rolling on my care. The doctors did tell me that they didn't expect to find the clot, so they were just doing the scan as a precaution.

  • Hi thankyou for telling me it all helps

    Best Wishes


  • I have had TIAs in I know I have had one at work and I have had one on Boxing day 2011 and one in hospital that time I was told I was drunk, not sure how I could be drunk as I dont drink, they don't often show up on CT scans though I have a lot of white brain mass scaring, have left sided weakness, slow to talk, head pain that it would give child birth a run for its money, fed up on listening about migraines as migraines don't last as long as the pain that is like little camp fires in the right side of my brain. I was sent home from work because I was in so much pain.

  • Hi it makes you wonder sometimes what hospitals are thinking!

    Thankyou for sharing your experience

    Very best wishes


  • Similar experiences to you all, neurologist in mid 1990s said my condition was "biochemical". Later Rheumatologist diagnosed APLS on top of SLE. Showed me where "abnormalities" were on MRI scans.

    Have been back to a different neurologist since then (GP referred me for neuropathic pain), but how convenient it was for him that my previous neurology notes had been sent to the old notes archive. Otherwise his senior colleague would have looked bad.

  • Hi thankyou for sharing with me, how convenient!!

    Best wishes


  • Also don't ever avoid seeking medical attention in case you look like you are wasting anyone's time.

    Always consider your case as if it was a dear friend or a child. Would you avoid taking your dear friend or child to seek medical attention?

  • Hi yes thankyou for giving me a push of course with anyone else I would be dragging them to the Hospital I always put myself last but now you have said I will definitely take your advice in future

    Best wishes. Manxcat

  • Have had 3 TIA's. Starts in left side forehead and travels down to left eye. Last one I managed to stop it by vigorous massage to forehead. 2 CT brain scans showed no signs of TIAs. Doppler test was positive which shows I have vascular and arterial disease. Veins have become weakened because of all the migraines. Went to A/E which is why I had an ppt. with stroke clinic. I know you feel a fraud and you spend hours there. I don't know what the answer is.

  • Hi thankyou for sharing your experiences it really helps.In future I will go to A and E no matter what

    Best wishes


  • Im shocked to hear all the stories similar to mine. Although they all differ, yet many commonalities.

    I too have had multiple TIA's; so ive neen told u.til this year I. April and again in May. Lest then a month later.

    But in April, I ernt to a different hospital and there I was told I did not have a TIA, although facial abnormalities showed stroke like symptoms, but the fact that the lower part of my body did not fit a TIA. Regardless of the fact I had weakness in my lower part of my body. The day before I was 5.3', the day afterwards, I woke up went to stand up but almost fell, I tried again.and almost fell again. I felt like my equilibrium was off. Made my way to the bathroom holding onto the wall the whole way. However, on my way to the bathroom I felt the upper part of my waist dropped into my lower waist. I dont think anyone believed me. Now that I think about it; I think that is why they say I diddnt have a TIA or stroke. So after a couple days in the hospital, they said I had Conversion Disorder (Mental Illness) Smh! So when I was riding back from a wedding; my daughter driving. I woke up inable to speak, starring out the window for about 2-3 minutes, went back to sleep. Then about 15 minutes later, I woke up and said to my daughter "somethings wrong with my right arm", she said smile, and my mouth was twisted. She asked if I wanted to go to the hospital took me to the hospital which was about 45 minutes from where we were I can barely walk in the hospital almost Binny's Twisted mouth could barely move my arm my right arm so weak. After workup, CTScan and MRI, I was told it was not a stroke or a TIA. 2 days later they said I had Conversion Disorder. After 4 TIA's, they now think I it's all in my head, stress related. Regardless of the fact that I had nust left a beautiful stress free wedding/reception. Tearing up right now! I've had and was treated fo TIA's 3 years in a row. And now I'm crazy, made it up in my head.

    I was told for years that TIA's show up on MRI within the first 2hours after symptoms occur. Now I'm told at a different hospital that aMRI can show signs of any TIA 5 years later. And they say I never had a TIA. How puzzling and crazy that sounds. Why do Doctor's lie.

    I'm praying for those people. Thinking about fileing a lawsuit.

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