In NSW 16,000 acute strokes occur each year, costing NSW an estimated $800 million in direct costs to health care and $2.9 billion in indirect costs / economic burden to society.
The effects of stroke can be alleviated significantly with clot-busting drugs given in a 4.5 hour window. Determining whether it’s a stroke from a clot (ischaemic) or a bleed (haemorrhagic) is critical.
An estimated 80% of these acute strokes are ischemic and a majority of them would be eligible for clot-busting treatment if diagnosis can be made in 4.5 hours.
Stroke Finder is a compact, portable microwave emitter & receiver helmet designed by HMRI collaborators, Medfield Diagnostic Sweden. It identifies the type and location of the stroke inducing clot or bleed using sophisticated microwave technology.
It could be used in ambulances & emergency rooms as a low cost innovative diagnostic tool that would transform acute stroke care. Its impact will especially benefit rural patients.
If acceptable feasibility of pre-hospital deployment/signal analysis along with the required high level of diagnostic accuracy can be confirmed in pre-clinical and clinical testing, the device would allow delivery of proven effective therapies, such as blood pressure lowering or “clot busting” drug therapies, in the ambulance or in the hospital emergency room, thus lowering the human and economic impact of stroke.
The helmet needs further field testing and development on 200 acute stroke patients. 160 ischemic, 40 ICH plus a collection of subdural and subarachnoid haemorrhages and feed these into the analysis to train the algorithm. The clinical approach of the Newcastle stroke team places us in an ideal position to assess the device clinically.
HMRI and the Hunter Stroke Service would be responsible for the study design, patient recruitment, clinical evaluation, Ct & MRI brain imaging, data and statistical analysis.
Using these numbers it is readily calculated that if the Stroke Finder could successfully diagnose half of the eligible acute strokes (approximately 6,400 individuals) in NSW then the savings potentially are up to 40% of the $800m and $2.9billion advised above. This is $320m in direct costs alone. Against this is the estimated cost of deploying sufficient Stroke Finders to detect 50% of acute strokes and treat with clot busting drugs. This has been estimated at around $10,000 per detection and treatment, or $64m.
Globally there are approximately 15 million stroke events each year of which 5 million are acute strokes where stroke sufferers are left either dead or disabled.
HMRI is together with its partners, HNELHD and University of Newcastle uniquely placed to undertake these studies. HMRI’s stroke team are world leaders in stroke care and research and are very fortunate to have a very progressive ambulance service that works closely with the Stroke Unit at John Hunter Hospital and are supportive of the study proceeding. WE will vigorously and independently evaluate then diagnostic accuracy of the Stroke Finder.
Thus, there is a very high return on investment and compelling societal need to buy the Stroke Finder, to both improve patient outcomes and quality of life, and also to reduce the financial burden of stroke patients on public resources.