Dr. Todd Miller, Chief of Neuro Interventional Services, Stamford Health
According to the American Heart Association, someone in the United States, where ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death, has a stroke about every 40 seconds. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. A patient’s ability to recover depends on how quickly they receive medical attention, and what kind of treatment is provided.
Signs of a stroke include:
• Sudden numbness or weakness in the leg, face or arm, typically on one side of the body
• Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech
• Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Problems with walking, including loss of balance or lack of coordination
• Severe headache that appears for no apparent reason
Stroke has been treated with clot-busting medication for nearly 25 years in the U.S. Not all strokes can be treated successfully with medication. Research has shown that a recently developed procedure, called thrombectomy, can save many patients with the most severe strokes that cannot be helped by intravenous medicines. A thrombectomy allows physicians to remove blood clots from the brain that cause an ischemic stroke using new tools which are delivered through the patents arterial tree from the leg all the way to the brain. The faster this is done the more successful the treatment.
"Immediate diagnosis and the best treatments can help improve outcomes of patients who have stroke symptoms"
Another advancement in treatment that allows for faster decisions is the development of artificial intelligence (AI)software. This allows physicians to immediately determine if a patient is eligible for the thrombectomy procedure. This technology involves a CT perfusion, or scan of the brain, that provides a detailed picture of blood flow to the brain. Patients whose scans show a large vessel blockage and robust helping vessels (or collaterals) are most likely to benefit from a thrombectomy. The CT data obtained in the emergency department involves thousands of images and provides so much data that it used to take a lot of time to interpret it all accurately. Now, with the help of AI, clinicians at Stamford Health are presented with an analysis of the scan in less than a minute, which is a huge advancement. The AI color codes the scan data, and doctors can quickly see the area of the brain that they can save.
Physicians at Stamford Health are using the most up to date AI software and the latest thrombectomy tools to perform life-saving procedures for patients suffering from ischemic strokes right now.
Immediate diagnosis and the best treatments can help improve outcomes of patients who have stroke symptoms. That’s why it’s extremely important to not only know the signs of a stroke but also for patients and emergency workers to know which hospitals are using this new technology. Often when an ambulance is called, emergency workers will bring stroke patients to hospitals they now have the tools to quickly diagnose and treat patients. That’s how important this new technology is. When physicians have a matter of minutes to make a decision for a patient, this new AI software makes all the difference for clinicians and patients. If a patient needs more than medicine to treat stroke and is brought to a hospital where thrombectomy is not available, they must be transferred to a hospital where the procedure can be performed. This wastes time and can limit a patient’s potential for recovery. The quicker a patient is diagnosed and treated, the more likely they will return to a normal life.