The Northwestern Medicine Mobile Stroke Unit delivered tPA to ischemic stroke patients 52 minutes after 911 dispatch, compared to an average of 82 minutes for patients transported via ambulance, on average, according to a data analysis of the unit’s first year of service.

The Mobile Stroke Unit is described in a media release as a specialized ambulance equipped with a 16-slice CT scanner to take detailed images of the brain, a direct telemedicine connection to neurologists at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) and stroke-specific medications, including the clot-busting drug tPA.

For patients who have experienced a stroke, tPA cannot be given until a CT scan or other imaging can be performed to determine if the stroke is ischemic or hemorrhagic. The Mobile Stroke Unit allows clinicians to make that determination from the patient’s driveway, the release adds.

“Every minute the brain goes without oxygen there is a 3.1 week acceleration of the natural aging process,” says Harish Shownkeen, MD, medical director of the Stroke and Neurointerventional Surgery Programs at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “By treating stroke patients faster, we are greatly improving the odds patients will suffer minimal to no long-term deficits.”

The goal is to diagnose and treat stroke within the “Golden Hour,” the first 60 minutes following onset of symptoms when patients have much better outcomes. During the first year of service, 27% of eligible Mobile Stroke Unit patients received tPA within 1 hour of onset of symptoms, the release continues.

“The Mobile Stroke Unit is a tangible example of Northwestern Medicine living its commitment to our ‘patients first’ mission,” states Gary A. Noskin, MD, senior vice president of quality, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. “The experience and knowledge gained from the Mobile Stroke Unit, cutting-edge clinical trials, our telestroke program and other innovative programming are helping our clinicians and researchers better understand and improve the treatment of stroke.”

Reportedly the first of its kind in Illinois and one of the largest in the nation, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital’s Mobile Stroke Unit can be directly dispatched by 9-1-1 to patients within the hospital’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) area.

For areas outside the region, Northwestern Medicine is developing a secondary service area in which fire protection districts and ambulance services can request the MSU for patients who meet stroke criteria.

“We are essentially bringing the hospital to the patient,” explains Mehr Mohajer-Esfahani, MSN, RN, program manager, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital Mobile Stroke Unit, in the release. “Diagnosis and treatment begin in the Mobile Stroke Unit before the patient is transported to the closest comprehensive stroke center.”

[Source(s): Northwestern Medicine, PR Newswire]