Heart Health Articles

3-minute brain scans can save more stroke victims

July 25, 2017

A fast brain scanning technique has been developed in the UK which will ensure that stroke victims get their vital drugs more quickly.

Cambridge University (UK) scientists say that their 3-minute scan provides the same amount of information as the normal 20-minute scan.

This technique could mean quicker access to drugs that break up blood clots. The faster patients can get these drugs into their systems the more successful their recovery is.

A patient who has a stroke caused by a clot in the brain needs to have the drug within three hours of the stroke in order to minimise the effects of the clot to the brain.

The problem for doctors is that they have to rule out a second type of stroke (a burst blood vessel within the brain) before administering the drug as this drug is bad for the second type of stroke.

The scientists at Cambridge have adapted an MRI scanner so that it produces the same number of images (as a 20 minute scan) in only three minutes. These images are of a good enough quality for doctors to know whether a blood vessel is blocked.

Another benefit is that it is easier to hold a stroke patient still for three minutes rather than twenty. Dr. Jonathan Gillard (study leader) said 'The three-minute scan is as good as the 20-minute version, and in some instances better because stroke patients may be distressed and move around.

'Despite the machine noise and possible claustrophobia, agitated patients are more likely to remain still during a quick procedure than a lengthy one.'

He said that even a few minutes saved could be important. 'It could make quite a big difference in the benefits you are likely to get from clot-busting treatment, in terms of disability and death.'