Emergency Treatment at
Abington Memorial Hospital
When a stroke occurs, Abington Memorial Hospital's stroke team takes immediate, often lifesaving action. Studies show that swift treatment lessens damage to the brain. When stroke victims arrive in the Emergency Trauma Center, members of the stroke team perform CT scans or MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) of the brain to determine the type and location of the stroke and the extent of any damage to brain cells and tissue. In certain ischemic cases, physicians administer rT-PA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) a drug initially utilized to minimize the effects and damage of heart attacks. It is now being used to dissolve blood clots and limit brain damage.
CT scan (Computed Tomography) is a key imaging test, which uses radiation to create a picture of the brain. It's usually one of the first tests given to patients suspected of stroke. CT test results give valuable information about the cause of stroke and the location and extent of brain injury.
CTA scan (Computed Tomography Angiogram) is an imaging test which uses radiation and dye to create a picture of the brain.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses a large magnetic field to produce an image of the brain. Like the CT scan, it shows the location and extent of brain injury, but the image produced by MRI is sharper and more detailed.
Stroke Identification by Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Attempts are being made across the country to improve accuracy in diagnosing stroke before the patient arrives at the hospital. It has been recognized that up to 30 percent of patients with stroke are misdiagnosed in the field, which has led to the development of simple scales that attempt to accurately diagnose stroke and help prepare emergency trauma units for their arrival. Ongoing EMS stroke education is provided by AMH including utilization of the FAST scale and importance of pre-hospital notification.