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Oxford University Hospitals join England’s first AI-enabled stroke network


Oxford University Hospitals has joined neighbouring trusts in using state-of-the-art technology to help more patients recover following a stroke.

The e-Stroke Suite technology, developed by Oxford-based Brainomix, is now live at the John Radcliffe Hospital well as in neighboring hospitals in High Wycombe, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Reading, Aylesbury, and Swindon, who have all come together in one Thames Valley network.

The technology enables high quality CT brain scans to be shared quickly and securely within and between hospitals using imaging software which incorporates artificial intelligence (AI).

AI software analyses the CT images of the brain and its blood vessels immediately after the patient has a scan, automatically highlighting the area of probable damage and the blocked blood vessel.

The rapid transfer of high-quality images enables a more coordinated and swift response in identifying whether a patient would benefit from a mechanical thrombectomy (MT), a procedure to remove a blockage in a large blood vessel in the brain which can cause a severe stroke. 

This, supported by consultations with the Trust’s Interventional Radiology team, will help patients to get the right treatment at the right time.

The NHS Long Term Plan identifies stroke as a clinical priority. It aims to increase use of thrombectomy so that hundreds more people are able to regain their independence following a stroke.

Within the Thames Valley, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) provides specialist stroke care for patients requiring MT. Currently 30-50 patients undergo MT each year in Oxford.  Across the Thames Valley, it is estimated that 300-400 patients per year could benefit from MT.

Dr Phil Mathieson, clinical lead for stroke at OUH, said: "We are delighted to be the first stroke network in the country to use an AI decision aid in the management of our patients with stroke.  

"This will assist us in the rapid identification of patients who may benefit from a mechanical thrombectomy. As all of our referring hospitals will be using the e-Stroke Suite, this removes the barrier of delays in accessing the necessary imaging to make these time-critical decisions.

"It also futureproofs us as we look to use more advanced imaging techniques to expand the number of patients with a stroke that may be helped by the thrombectomy procedure. I am confident that this development will help improve outcomes for patients in the Thames Valley."