Medical Coaches, Tri-Star and Siemens Healthcare have introduced the world’s most comprehensive mobile stroke unit, capable of conducting and producing advanced quality imaging for stroke diagnosis and non-invasive CT-angiography with a Siemens SOMATOM® Scope CT scanner.

This is the first time CT capabilities of this magnitude have been available in a mobile setting, creating the ability to diagnose and launch treatment.

While other mobile stroke units have been launched in a small number of communities, the combination of many firsts in terms of mobile application and utilisation make this the most complete mobile stroke unit in the world.

Those other mobile stroke units allow for initial treatment to begin quickly and for prepping for emergency room arrival, while the sophistication of the mobile stroke unit means a patient will be prepped to go straight to the catheterisation laboratory, neuro intensive care unit or hospital stroke unit, bypassing the stop in the emergency department entirely.

The mobile stroke unit, weighing in at more than 14t, includes features and capabilities never before assembled for mobile deployment, including a hospital-quality CT scanner with advanced imaging capabilities to not only allow brain imaging, but also imaging of blood vessels in the brain.

Other mobile stroke units in the US and Europe use smaller portable CT scans that only image the brain (without vessels) and also require the team to move the patient for each slice (picture) that is taken. The mobile stroke unit provides the same number of slices in high resolution as obtained and expected in the hospital setting since it is equipped with a dedicated gantry that automatically moves the patient to obtain images.

Due to these advanced imaging capabilities, the mobile stroke unit will be able to bypass hospital emergency departments and take patients directly to endovascular suites, operating rooms, stroke or neurocritical units.

It is the largest mobile stroke unit in the world, complete with an internal power source capable of matching regular electrical outlet access.

The mobile stroke unit capacity includes the ability to transport trainees and researchers interested in building the science of early stroke management.

"If we eliminate the treatment delay getting to and through the emergency room, we can save up to 90 minutes, and as a neurologist, I know that time is brain, so the more time we save, the less likely it is that permanent brain damage will occur in a patient.

"Our hypothesis is that we will deliver hospital-level standard of stroke care faster, equally safe, but with better outcomes due to the ability to intervene much earlier," said Dr Andrei V. Alexandrov, chairman of the department of neurology at the University of Tennessee health science centre and Semmes-Murphey professor.

"Our ‘time to treatment’ target is less than one hour," he added.