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Airport security-style technology could help doctors decide on stroke treatment
Date:4/23/2014

A new computer program could help doctors predict which patients might suffer potentially fatal side-effects from a key stroke treatment.

The program, which assesses brain scans using pattern recognition software similar to that used in airport security and passport control, has been developed by researchers at Imperial College London. Results of a pilot study funded by the Wellcome Trust, which used the software are published in the journal Neuroimage Clinical.

Stroke affects over 15 million people each year worldwide. Ischemic strokes are the most common and these occur when small clots interrupt the blood supply to the brain. The most effective treatment is called intravenous thrombolysis, which injects a chemical into the blood vessels to break up or 'bust' the clots, allowing blood to flow again.

However, because intravenous thombolysis effectively thins the blood, it can cause harmful side effects in about six per cent of patients, who suffer bleeding within the skull. This often worsens the disability and can cause death.

Clinicians attempt to identify patients most at risk of bleeding on the basis of several signs assessed from brain scans. However, these signs can often be very subtle and human judgements about their presence and severity tend to lack accuracy and reliability.

In the new study, researchers trained a computer program to recognise patterns in the brain scans that represent signs such as brain-thinning or diffuse small-vessel narrowing, in order to predict the likelihood of bleeding. They then pitted the automated pattern recognition software against radiologists' ratings of the scans. The computer program predicted the occurrence of bleeding with 74 per cent accuracy compared to 63 per cent for the standard prognostic approach.

Dr Paul Bentley from the Department of Medicine, lead author of the study, said: "For each patient that doctors see, they have to weigh up whether t
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Contact: Franca Davenport
f.davenport@imperial.ac.uk
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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