Medical imaging is a sector of health care full of innovative technology that drives the quality of care forward into new frontiers. New equipment offers upgraded capabilities that can extend the continuum of care outside the walls of hospitals and imaging practices.
The advent of mobile computed tomography scanners provides cheaper and easier access for small health care facilities with tighter budgetary constraints. For rural communities, mobile CT scanners can be brought to faraway areas, which reduces the amount of distance traveled to receive adequate care at a convenient location. When one is included with an emergency response vehicle, such as an ambulance, the benefits of fast results and service can grow.
Treating with speed
According to a study published by German researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an ambulance that has a mobile CT scanner on hand can help greatly reduce treatment times for stroke patients without an increase in adverse events.
AuntMinnie.com reported that the study's results were gleaned from more than 1,000 stroke patients who received care from the specialized Stroke Emergency Mobile (STEMO) ambulance. The research, led by Martin Ebinger, M.D, of the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, showed that the average alarm-to-treatment time for patients suspected of experiencing a stroke was cut by roughly 25 minutes.
Additionally, there were no notable differences in the seven-day mortality rates between patients treated with the mobile CT scanner in the ambulance and those who were taken to the hospital for diagnostic imaging.
Timing is everything
The National Stroke Association explained that a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, which impedes blood flow to the brain. When either of these events occur, brain cells can begin to die off and possibly cause long-lasting brain damage. The affected areas can impact motor skills and abilities such as speech and memory. Because of this, timing is essential to limiting the potential damage caused by a stroke.
With the average stroke patient not receiving treatment for more than an hour in the U.S., the integration of mobile digital imaging into ambulances can have significant benefits. The less time that patients are left waiting for care, the more likely it is that the effects of a stroke will be reduced. The study from Ebinger and his colleagues underscores the need for increased mobility in diagnostic radiology to improve the quality of care in the U.S.
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