New technology to improve stroke diagnosis

The majority of the 16 million people worldwide who have a stroke every year suffer long-term disability or death unless they are diagnosed and treated in time. This number is expected to more than double worldwide by 2030. But up to half of patients who could be treated are not.

Most strokes are ischaemic – a result of a blocked artery preventing oxygen reaching brain cells. Treatment with either clot-busting drugs (thrombolysis) or mechanical clot-removal devices can re-establish blood flow to the brain and limit otherwise fatal or permanent damage. Treatment is only effective when administered within six hours after the stroke. A 2014 study in the journal Stroke found every 15-minute delay in giving thrombolysis adds one month of disability to a patient’s life.

Critically, treatment can only be given following expert assessment of a patient’s brain CT scan and detecting ischaemic damage is challenging. Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. The medical imaging software e-ASPECTS, from Brainomix, is expected to improve this dramatically.

The Alberta Stroke Programme Early CT Score or ASPECTS score is a clinically validated way of assessing the extent of stroke damage using brain CT scans. It is a strong predictor of patient outcome and can be used to help identify patients who are likely to suffer a haemorrhage as a result of treatment. Currently, the use of ASPECTS in routine clinical practice is limited because it requires extensive expertise and there is variability between experts.

With this software, ASPECTS can realise its potential to revolutionise stroke care

Inventor of ASPECTS Professor Alastair Buchan is co-founder of Brainomix, a University of Oxford startup company that has been developing e-ASPECTS. This is the first imaging software to automatically assess and quantify ischaemic brain damage on CT scans of acute stroke patients, by applying the ASPECTS method.

The e-ASPECTS software fully integrates with existing clinical infrastructure, and provides a reliable and standardised interpretation of a patient’s CT scan. By equipping clinicians with this additional expertise, e-ASPECTS is expected to increase the uptake of existing stroke treatments, improving the likelihood that a patient has a good outcome.

Professor Buchan, professor of stroke medicine and dean of medicine at the University of Oxford, says: “With this software, ASPECTS can realise its potential to revolutionise stroke care.”

Further feedback from clinicians is important to Brainomix in the run-up to CE marking in early-2015. Clinicians are invited to see a demonstration of e-ASPECTS, find out more and give feedback at