Software detects blood in stroke patients’ brains

Siemens has developed software for observing the volume of blood in the brain during treatment of stroke patients.

The new imaging technology promises to help doctors react immediately to changes in the blood vessels and initiate the proper treatment measures more quickly.

Previously it was only possible to capture a detailed image of the flow of blood to the brain by means of computed tomography (CT) or magnetic-resonance tomography (MR) prior to the treatment.

Treatment of a stroke is normally monitored using X-ray images, whereby a scanner rotates around the body on a C-arm. A catheter inserted into the brain either breaks up the blood clot mechanically or dissolves it. However, the X-ray image alone provides information only about the anatomy of the brain and the blood vessels, so doctors must refer to previous CT scans showing the volume of blood in the brain.

Siemens’ software, dubbed Syngo Neuro PBV IR, uses cross-sectional CT images of the body acquired from a C-arm scanner rotated around the patient. This allows soft tissue and bleeding to be observed during treatment.

The Syngo Neuro PBV IR software relies on specially developed algorithms to generate detailed images of the blood flow through brain tissue within 40 seconds.

A stroke is an insufficient flow of blood through the brain, resulting in permanent damage to brain tissue. The sooner a patient is treated, the greater the chance that the amount of brain tissue damaged will be minimal.

The Siemens technology has been announced amid the release of a new Royal College of Physicians and Vascular Society audit. It found that only a third of patients who have suffered mini-strokes in the UK undergo surgery to help prevent a full-blown attack before the recommended two-week treatment deadline.

Each year in the UK, around 120,000 people have a stroke and 20-30 per cent die within a month.

Stroke is the largest single cause of significant adult disability, with nearly a million people living with the devastating after-effects.

Stroke costs the economy £7bn yearly and £2.8bn in direct hospital care.

Source: Royal College of Physicians and the Vascular Society