Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Artificial intelligence now helping assess local stroke patients

Published on

Troy Shantz

Doctors assessing stroke patients at Bluewater Health are getting a helping hand from an unexpected source these days – artificial intelligence.

The new AI computer software can analyze a CT scan and in minutes predict the level of cell damage and quantify the amount of brain tissue that can be saved.

“For those 90 seconds, we get a lot of information that can help triage the patient into what the best treatment for them is,” said Dr. Youssef Almalki, director of diagnostic imaging.

Dr. Youssef Almalki

“This is a tool to help us identify strokes, identify the best treatment for that stroke, to give the best patient outcome.”

Bluewater Health partnered with Windsor Regional Hospital to buy and share the AI software to improve treatment outcomes across the region.

When it comes to assessing stroke patients, “time is brain,” said Dr. Pandu Shetty, an internist and stroke team lead in Sarnia.

“When oxygen-rich blood is blocked from reaching the brain, more brain cells will die, leading to damage and disability,” he said.

“Early intervention in stroke is critical for better chances of recovery. This software allows us to quickly identify patients who could benefit from clot removal intervention, and aim to have them ready for transfer to London within the best-practice window of 45 minutes of arriving to hospital.”

Doctors who once relied on their best judgement when reviewing CT scans now have precise data.

“If you’re in a farmer’s market and you’re looking at a pile of apples, you can guesstimate how many apples are in there,” Almalki explained.

“But with this (tool), you know exactly how many apples are in that pile. You know exactly how many brain cells can be saved.”

Stroke is one of the chief causes of death and the leading cause of disability in Ontario, Almalki said. Symptoms include facial drooping, slurred speech, confusion, and loss of movement, and anyone experiencing such symptoms should get to the hospital immediately.

While some people do recover fully, many have long-term or lifelong disabilities.

But technology is vastly improving outcomes, including new processes to remove blood clots from the brain, Almalki said.

A second AI software application that can locate bleeding in the patient’s brain is currently being tested in Sarnia, he added.

“It is the cutting edge of stroke care. I have to thank the hospital, which is able to think outside the box to bring in high quality technology as a commitment to quality care. This is why Bluewater Health consistently ranks within the top 50 hospitals in Canada.”




More like this