Monitoring for Another Stroke in Real Time

Head patch monitors brain blood flow and oxygen

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(RxWiki News) About a third of hospitalized stroke patients have another stroke, but constant monitoring can be tough for medical staff. A small monitor that attaches to a patient's brow may help doctors detect strokes sooner.

Florida Mayo Clinic researchers have created a small patch similar to a clip-on finger pulse oximeter that measures oxygen and blood flow, which could provide real time monitoring of patients at risk for a recurrent stroke.

"Talk to a neurologist about your stroke risk."

Dr. William Freeman, study investigator and an associate professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic, noted the study was a small pilot study, and that additional research is planned. He is hopeful that the bedside tool can offer significant benefits to patients by helping doctors detect strokes sooner and manage recovery better.

The tool is known as frontal near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and it is both safe and cost effective.

Currently nurses monitor patients at high risk of another stroke, and they must be immediately moved to the radiology department for a CT perfusion scan, which includes contrast, a type of injected dye, if a stroke is suspected.

Doctors may opt to insert an oxygen probe inside the brains of very ill patients to measure blood and oxygen flow, but the method is invasive and limited to a certain region of the brain.

Before clinical use, the NIRS device, which emits near-infrared light that penetrates the scalp and brain tissue, was used on animals to study blood flow. Researchers then compared NIRS measurements with CT perfusion scanning in eight stroke patients.

Results for both NIRS and CT perfusion scanning were statistically similar. However NIRS had a more limited field for measuring blood and oxygen flow, indicating the device may not be appropriate for monitoring all patients.

Dr. Freeman said that after additional studies and miniaturizing of the device, the NIRS may be useful for assessing blood functioning after brain injuries in a military setting.

The study was recently published in journal Neurosurgical Focus.

Last Updated:
February 15, 2012