Blue Sky Award winners will be first to use ambulance-mounted portable scanners to monitor stroke patients en route to the hospital

Compliments of MUSC Catalyst News

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at MUSC has received an inaugural Blue Sky Award for their study to determine whether equipping ambulances with a portable MRI scanner could reduce the time to treatment for South Carolina stroke patients in a cost-effective way. The team is led by MUSC Health neuroradiologist Donna Roberts, M.D.,  a professor in the College of Medicine, and evaluation expert Jillian Harvey, Ph.D., an associate professor in the College of Health Professions at MUSC. The Blue Sky Award, which will provide $100,000 in funding to test the feasibility of the idea, was created to reward such creative, out-of-the-box thinking and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

When a patient experiences a stroke, the clock starts ticking for receiving effective, emergent care. For patients with strokes caused by blood clots, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an important clot-busting drug, can help clear blocked vessels if given within a narrow time window. Because tPA carries a risk for increased bleeding, scans are needed before treatment to ensure that the stroke is not a brain bleed.

“We know that the faster we treat people, the better the outcomes and the lower the risk of complications from the tPA,” said MUSC Health stroke neurologist Christine Holmstedt, D.O., a professor in the College of Medicine and a collaborator on the project.

MUSC Health has worked to dramatically shorten its door-to-needle time – the time from when a patient enters the hospital until the tPA is infused. For example, stroke neurologists already conduct virtual pre-scan evaluations of patients en route to the hospital, shrinking the time to treatment from 40 to 20 minutes.  However, Roberts and her colleagues thought more could be done to cut the crucial time lost while patients are transported to the hospital.  Enjoy the complete article here, compliments of MUSC Catalyst News.

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