New CT Gives Clearer Picture Of Strokes

Topeka (WIBW) - A new, more powerful scanner is giving people who suffer a stroke a better chance at recovery.

Dr. Tim Allen of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, says Stormont-Vail HealthCare's new 128-slice CT scanner is giving him a whole new picture of how to treat a stroke.

Allen says the longer the brain is without blood flow, the more neurons die. The 128-slice scanner can image the entire brain in one revolution, so he can see not only where the stroke is, but also how much damage it's done. Allen says the scans can show if an area is merely compromised and could be saved if blood flow is restored.

That's important because the best treatment for strokes caused by blockages is a powerful anti-clotting treatment. It carries a high risk of bleeding, so must be given within four and a half hours of a stroke's onset. If the time frame isn't clear, the images now offer a new, potentially vital, piece of information.

Allen says, in the past, they were only able to tell how large the affected area was and where it was located. With the new scans able to capture whether the tissue is still viable, they can better weigh the risks versus the benefits. If the tissue is already dead, for example, they know the risk of bleeding would be at no benefit to the patient.

Plus, if a large vessel is blocked and requires surgery, or if it's a stroke caused by bleeding, Allen says doctors already have a scan to serve as their guide.

It all means faster treatment in a situation where every moment counts. Allen says the hope is to end the stroke and lessen any damage it may do.

Of course, the big key remains knowing the signs of a stroke so you can quickly get to the hospital for help. Remember the term "FAST." If your face is drooping on one side, you have sudden weakness in your arms or legs, or your speech suddenly becomes slurred, then the "t" is "time" to quickly get help because it could be a stroke.

Allen says fewer than five percent of people recognized the symptoms of stroke quickly enough to get to the emergency room within that four-and-a-half-hour window required for the clot-busting treatment.


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