When blood supply to the brain is compromised or blocked, nutrient and oxygen delivery to the area is greatly impaired. In just a few minutes, brain cell death may occur. Although emergency drugs which have the capability to dissolve clots are available, these agents need to be administered within a quick timeframe of 3 hours or less from the onset of the stroke. In this case, rapid diagnosis and management is of great value.
In light of this, health informatics research experts from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed a device which has the capability of detecting the earliest signs of stroke based from computed tomography (CT) scans. This CAD stroke technology was developed by the team led by Dr. Fuk-hay Tang from the Department of Health Technology and Informatics at PolyU.
The scans made through the use of a CT machine are fed into the CAD stroke computer. What this machine does is that it would carefully make precise and accurate calculations and comparisons and use these data to be able to map the brain and locate the area which has decreased blood flow. In as fast as 10 minutes, scans come out, which now have highlighted areas of insufficient blood flow. Several anatomical changes such as loss of sulcus and early signs of MCA occlusion can be identified.
This life-saving innovation in health informatics study is also able to identify early and subtle changes in the brain tissue which would otherwise be undetected even by the trained eyes of a specialist like a neurosurgeon. It would also eliminate the need for confirmatory tests to rule out diseases and conditions which may manifest as stroke enabling clinicians to make fully-informed decisions.
The CAD stroke technology also has the capacity to learn from its previous experiences. The more scans it was able to read and interpret, the more accurate it becomes.
As health informatics researcher Dr. Tang points out, “The clock is ticking for stroke patients.” Therefore, the quicker a diagnosis is settled, the faster the appropriate actions can be made. Furthermore, Dr. Tang explains that with the use of the CAD stroke technology, less specialized and experienced physicians would be able to diagnose and manage stroke patients if need be.