First portable brain scanner could help diagnose stroke in seconds

18 February 2017

Scientists have created the world's first portable brain scanner which diagnoses stroke within seconds.

Over 100,000 people suffered a stroke every year in the UK, a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurred when the blood supply to part of the brain was cut off.

The condition, a medical emergency demands urgent treatment and the sooner a person received treatment; the less damage was likely to happen.

The new device, which is the size of a large hat provides an image on a screen from which medical professionals could almost instantly determine what type of treatment was needed.

Details of the technology were revealed in the world's biggest science conference in Boston.

Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, of West Virginia University neuroscience centre, explained how stroke sufferers would benefit from the PET (positron emission tomography) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.

She said, "A lot of people wake up with stroke. If you could get a quick image you could decide whether to do an intervention."

She explained that the key was identifying the penumbra - the brain area affected by stroke - which could still be salvaged with surgery or medicine.

The transportable brain-scanning helmet could be used for rapid brain injury assessments of stroke victims.

Though it was roughly the size of a motorbike helmet, the new device produced remarkably detailed images that could be used to identify regions of trauma to the brain in the ambulance on the way to hospital or at a person's bedside.

Though the device is currently being tested on healthy volunteers, it could be used clinically within two years, the team predicted.

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