Real-time MRI expands treatment options
According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), someone in the U.S. experiences a stroke every 40 seconds. That translates to nearly 800,000 people each year. If it has not happened already, chances are that someone close to you will be affected by stroke, whether they be a parent, child, friend, neighbor, sibling, or even you.
As Stroke Awareness Month begins, it is an opportune time to learn about the signs of a stroke.
For stroke victims, quickly recognizing the signs of a stroke is crucial in order to receive effective treatment and to improve chances of a full recovery.
Once signs are recognized, patients or their family members must call 911 and be taken by ambulance to the closest stroke center. In Davis County, Davis Hospital has been recognized by the Utah Bureau of EMS as a Stroke Receiving Facility because its emergency physicians are ready to quickly evaluate and treat patients for stroke. University of Utah Hospital stroke neurologists consult live via the University Telestroke Network.
For best results, therapy needs to start right away, and doctors have new tools that make treatments more effective.
In early 2013, the Clinical Neurosciences Center at the University hospital completed construction on an ultra-modern angiography suite outfitted with an intraoperative MRI (iMRI). This pioneering setup is the creation of Dr. Steve Stevens, chairman of the department of radiology. It allows doctors to pinpoint the precise location and progress of a stroke in real-time, while the patient is experiencing stroke symptoms.
“Right now we base all of our current treatments on time,” said Stevens. “Time zero, or the onset of the stroke, starts when the patient was last seen well. Stroke neurologists then have up to four and a half hours to give intravenous clot-busting drugs. Catheter-based therapies to remove the clot can extend that time window up to six to eight hours.”
Stevens is confident that with real-time information from the iMRI, physicians will better determine when a stroke started.
“With the new iMRI, we can look at your brain tissue and more accurately determine when stroke began and how progressed it is,” he said. “We are essentially shifting stroke diagnosis away from a ‘time clock’ and over to a ‘tissue clock’ for each person.”