New technology to save lives
Blood clot or internal bleeding? Correct diagnosis at an early stage can save lives and prevent serious complications at a later stage for people who have suffered a stroke. Swedish medical technology company Medfield Diagnostics has successfully developed new technology leading to the establishment of a revolutionary method for diagnosing a stroke, simply called the Strokefinder, enabling professionals to determine diagnosis earlier. In fact, the answer can be obtained on the way to the hospital, with access to the right diagnostic tools in the ambulance.
Stroke is one of the most common causes of death in Sweden. It is estimated that some 30 000 people are affected by a stroke each year, and statistics show that about 50 per cent of these people are deceased or suffer severe disabilities after the incident. The rest are left with complications of different nature, most commonly altered motor skills and speech impediments.
Aside from the strain on the patient, the cost for treatment and recovery presents a substantial economical strain on society at large. The amount has been estimated to reach a yearly figure of about 16 billion SEK.
The challenge – and possible solution
A greatly increased number of people would survive and get by with fewer or possibly no complications if the correct diagnosis could be set earlier, thus leading to the correct treatment to be initiated at an earlier stage. The problem is, however, that a stroke may also be caused by bleeding. If treatment is given to a patient with bleeding in the brain, it can complicate the condition severely. Therefore, treatment must be halted until the patient can be X-rayed at the hospital.
If equivalent testing could be done sooner, perhaps as early as on the way to the hospital, more lives could be saved. Two million brain cells die every minute at the beginning of a stroke. Applying tools for early diagnosis and treatment can in some cases save up to one hour, during which the patient otherwise would be more or less untreated.
Medfield Diagnostics have embarked on a second study in close collaboration with stroke experts at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. “We are currently working closely with health care providers and researchers in order to prove and verify our product and technology. The equipment supporting the method has already been installed as part of a pilot project at the Södra Älvsborg Hospital in Borås”, explains Dag Jungenfelt, President of Medfield Diagnostics. The aim is to install the Strokefinder at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital by next year, and by 2015 the ambulance version could be deployed.
Medfield Diagnostics’ Strokefinder is based on technology that was developed and patented by researchers Andreas Fhager and Mikael Persson at Chalmers University of Technology. Using microwaves of the same type as those used in a cellphone can identify possible bleeding in the brain. The microwaves are emitted by small antennas placed inside a cap, and are interpreted using software developed by Medfield Diagnostics after which a diagnosis can be determined.
Collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders
Medfield Diagnostics operates from the prestigious Sahlgrenska Science Park, in close vicinity of the Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Development takes place largely in collaboration with relating departments at the hospital such as the Department of Neurology and the Department of Neurophysiology. Interest in Medfield Diagnostics as a company as well as the innovation Strokefinder is growing rapidly, both among neurologists and possible future investors.
“After many years of research, development and clinical trials, we are now ready for market introduction. We are at the last stage of finalising the new version of Strokefinder, the M100, which will also be our first CE-product. Initial sales are primarily concentrated to Key Opinion Leaders, who will use the product in clinical method development. Our next step will be to process a larger market with support from the Key Opinion Leaders”, says Dag Jungenfelt.