Researchers have developed a new portable device that is that is capable of detecting severe stroke in a matter of few seconds with 92 per cent accuracy.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Mount Sinai, the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and colleagues from other institutions have published their findings in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgery.
The volumetric impedance phase shift spectroscopy (VIPS) device (Cerebrotech VisorTM, Cerebrotech Medical Systems, Pleasanton, CA) works by sending low-energy radio waves through the brain that change frequency when passing through fluids. Such waves are reflected back through the brain and then detected by the device. When a patient is having a severe stroke, the brain’s fluids will change, producing an asymmetry in the radio waves detected by the VIPS device. The greater the asymmetry, the more severe the stroke.
Endovascular therapy within 24 hours is the standard of care for emergent large-vessel occlusion, but the chance of achieving a good outcome decreases by approximately 20 percent for each hour that passes before treatment.
The researchers hope that the device will save valuable time — especially important in stroke where time is brain — when it is deployed with emergency medical personnel in the field. This is because the accuracy of the device simplifies the decision made by emergency personnel about where to take patients first.
In the study, the VIPS device was deployed with emergency medical personnel in regions served by five Comprehensive Stroke Centers equipped with the endovascular capabilities to treat large-vessel occlusions that underlie severe stroke. Their goal was to use the device to accurately identify severe stroke and then compare the results to established physical examination methods practiced by emergency personnel such as the Prehospital Acute Stroke Severity Scale.
Both healthy participants and patients with suspected stroke were evaluated by emergency personnel using the VIPS device. Three readings were taken and averaged — a process that takes about 30 seconds. Patients were also later evaluated by neurologists who provided definitive diagnoses using neuroimaging.
Compared to the neurologists’ diagnoses, the device displayed 92 percent specificity — the ability to detect the difference between patients with severe stroke and those with other conditions such as mild stroke or healthy participants with no brain pathology. This places the VIPS device above standard physical examination tools used by emergency personnel that display specificity scores between 40 and 89 percent.