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A new study led by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and collaborators has developed a new test to identify patients experiencing large vessel occlusion (LVO) stroke with high accuracy. LVO strokes are an aggressive type of ischemic stroke that require swift treatment with mechanical thrombectomy. The test combines blood-based biomarkers with a clinical score, allowing for the early identification of LVO strokes and distinguishing them from other conditions such as brain bleeds. This new technology has the potential to ensure that more stroke patients receive critical, life-restoring care in a timely manner.

The study demonstrated that combining the levels of the biomarkers GFAP and D-dimer with FAST-ED data less than six hours from the onset of symptoms enabled the test to detect LVO strokes with high specificity and sensitivity. It also effectively ruled out all patients with brain bleeds, indicating the potential for broader applications of the technology in detecting intracerebral hemorrhage as well. The use of this accessible diagnostic tool could be especially beneficial in low- and middle-income countries where advanced imaging may not be readily available and in assessing patients with traumatic brain injuries.

The research team is conducting further trials to measure the performance of the test when used in an ambulance setting and to expedite the triage of stroke patients by bypassing standard imaging and moving directly to intervention. This approach could significantly improve outcomes for stroke patients by ensuring that they receive the appropriate care pathway as quickly as possible. The researchers believe that in stroke care, time is critical, and the technology they have developed could be truly transformative in improving patient outcomes.

The potential applications of this test are not limited to stroke care, as it could also be useful in the assessment of patients with traumatic brain injuries. The study was supported by grant funding from Innovate UK and private funding. The researchers are optimistic about the future impact of this technology in improving the detection and treatment of LVO strokes, especially in settings where access to advanced imaging may be limited. By combining blood-based biomarkers with a clinical score, this new test offers a game-changing approach to identifying and treating stroke patients more effectively and efficiently.

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