Brain scan tech gives Geelong world-class treatment

Friday, 24 March 2017.

STATE-of-the-art imaging technology has brought Barwon Health’s stroke unit up to a first-class standard, equalling the care provided in large metropolitan hospitals.

With a specialist radiologist trained to use the system, University Hospital Geelong is the only hospital in the world fitted with the updated version of RAPID TM software, which performs scans using a dye to show artery and blood flow blockages in brain tissues.

The software, developed in Silicon Valley by iSchemaView and Stanford University, is superior to regular CT scans, which fail to clearly show strokes in the first 24 hours and do not provide critical information about viable brain tissue that can be saved with further treatment.

Barwon Health’s Head of Stroke, Dr Ben Clissold, said the latest software gave more information with greater ease than any other available in Australia and was a huge benefit for the hospital, with more than 700 patients diagnosed with stroke in 2016.

“We’ve used it for a few years but the latest version of the software has given us much quicker outputs that are more accurate and detailed,” he said.

“We previously had to make decisions using scan results with less certainty, but now we can make the right decision in a matter of minutes to help salvage the viable brain tissue.”

In May last year, Leopold resident Caitlynne Allen’s husband woke up to find her thrashing around in bed at 5am. He called an ambulance and she was rushed to University Hospital Geelong for brain scans.“It was all quite surreal,” Caitlynne said.

“I was aware something was going on, but I thought it would be OK. I wasn’t aware what the situation was.

“I felt as if everything happened so quickly, going to get scans and realising I needed to go to Melbourne at that particular time for a new procedure that removed the clot.

“Within 48 hours I was up walking, talking and using my hands.”

Caitlynne’s procedure left her with several lingering effects, but she has a great appreciation for how much worse her condition would be without the paramedics and hospital staff, including Dr Clissold, who used the imaging software to make a swift decision.

“Now when I get tired I limp and I have a lot of trouble writing because my hand cramps up,” she said.

“I get leg cramps every morning without fail. But without having that procedure, I think I would be in a nursing home right now.

“Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be where I am without the actions of the Geelong staff, Ben, all the nurses and specialists, and back to the ambos. I’m so grateful.”

Dr Clissold said that since using the software, the hospital’s neurology, radiology and emergency department staff had been able to assess more than 250 patients, with a significant number eligible for transfer to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for consideration of clot retrieval therapy.

“Like all stroke treatments, it is time critical because ‘time is brain’ - a blood clot that is left untreated for a longer time causes more brain tissue to be irreversibly damaged and results in a bigger stroke,” he said.

University Hospital Geelong has worked closely with Ambulance Victoria and the Royal Melbourne Hospital to ensure that the people of Geelong and surrounding areas have 24-hour access to the best stroke care.

Traditional Owners

We, Barwon Health, acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land, the Wadawurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to the Elders both past and present.