Scanning for Strokes: October 11, 2012

Faster is better when it comes to emergency medicine. At Gulf Coast Medical Center, this high tech imager is helping doctors scan for strokes in less time than it took for me to say this paragraph.

“To actually get the information is probably less than 10 seconds. However, the post processing portion of it can take a couple minutes because there’s human hands involved,” says Dr. William Hearn, a radiologist with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

With stroke in particular, time is of the essence. Victims must get clot-busting drugs within three hours of first symptoms to stand the best chance of a full recovery.

“With this type of system we can actually see where there is abnormal profusion into the brain and, therefore, a neural interventionalist could actually go in with a catheter and break up some of those clots with special clot-busting drugs,” says Dr. Hearn.

It’s not just speed, but accuracy that sets this scanner apart. A 128-slice scanner, it images in rapid succession- in this case of 128 slices. The higher the number, the more detailed the information.

“The computers can use that information and reconstruct virtually any anatomic structure, and allow us to look at it in 3D views, rotating it from side to side or even end over end,” says Dr. Hearn.

“We can then take it one step farther and identify which blood vessel is occluded causing the stroke. We can also image the patient’s physiology using this and watch the blood flow into the brain,” says Dr. Cory Duffek, a radiologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Changing the face of diagnosis with images like these.

“The image is actually rotating.  So we can see not only the main vessel and any abnormality of those, but also many of the branch vessels,” says Dr. Hearn.

The 128-slice scanner is giving doctors the speed they need in treating strokes.