A five-year research study funded by the Stroke Association aims to use routine brain imaging technology to improve outcomes for stroke survivors, making it easier to decide which emergency treatments will have the most benefit. Dr Grant Mair at the University of Edinburgh explains more.
Why is this research needed?
If you have a stroke and are taken to a major stroke centre for emergency treatment, the team treating you can use advanced brain imaging techniques to give them information such as exactly when the stroke happened.
But for lots of people in the UK their closest hospital won’t be a major stroke centre. Here, clinicians will usually have access to a computed tomography (CT) scan but won’t necessarily have the resources or expertise of a major stroke centre. My research is looking at how these hospitals can use CT scans to get more information and make the best decisions about emergency treatment.
How will this help improve outcomes for stroke?
Some treatments, like thrombolysis and thrombectomy, can only be used with a few hour of the stroke starting. So this research aims to open the door for more stroke clinicians to use these treatments, by using CT imaging to tell when the stroke started.
We’re also exploring how CT scans can be used to tell which parts of the brain have been permanently injured following a stroke, and which may have more chance of recovery. This can help clinicians to decide which therapies will be most effective.
What happens next?
So far we’ve used preliminary data to prove the concept that CT scans can be used in this way. Now we’re looking at methods to test how frontline clinicians can put this into practice in a busy hospital setting, and see whether it improves outcomes for patients.
I hope this will improve acute stroke care by changing clinical practice for the better, meaning that everyone will have the opportunity for the best possible care, no matter where you live.