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Regional Stroke Victims Receive Immediate Assistance Through University of Wisconsin Telestroke Network

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Regional stroke victims will now be able to receive immediate assistance from a UW Health stroke neurologist, thanks to the new University of Wisconsin Telestroke Network.


Telestroke is a technology that allows UW Health stroke neurologists, located in Madison, to assist regional hospitals in the diagnosis of patients who arrive with a suspected stroke.


In the emergency exam room there is a video camera system, microphone, and computer that allow UW Health stroke neurologists to view the patient and communicate with the regional physician. It is a web-based camera system, which not only allows the UW physicians to examine the patients, but to remotely view their neuroimaging scans as well.


Physicians log on from a PC or laptop and can control camera functions remotely to conduct a neurological exam with the help of a local ED nurse or technician. The stroke specialists can pan around the room to interact not only with the patient, but his or her family and the local providers. The high-quality camera can zoom in so far that pupillary reflexes can be checked. The process is secure, as the Internet transmissions are scrambled, or encrypted, so that it is only accessible to physicians with authorized access.


"There is no substitute for being able to see a patient and evaluate the stroke symptoms with your own eyes," said UW Health stroke neurologist Dr. Justin Sattin. "The biggest advantage is that it allows patients in any part of the state to get the same stroke assessment and treatment recommendations they could get at a comprehensive stroke center."


Sattin, along with colleagues Dr. Marcus Chacon and Dr. Matthew Jensen, participated in a similar telemedicine program run out of the University of California San Diego Medical Center. A five-year study of that program, published in August in the journal Lancet-Neurology, found that telemedicine resulted in better decision making than telephone consultations.


In many cases, telestroke will allow patients to stay in their regional hospital. But in more complicated cases in which the patient needs to come to Madison, the neurologist at UW Hospital will have already met and evaluated the patient. At UW Hospital and Clinics, patients who need further treatment will have access to neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists who specialize in less invasive surgery in which catheters are threaded into the brain to remove blood clots.


The stroke team at UW Hospital and Clinics is on call 24 hours a day and offers five stroke neurologists, as well as neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, neuroanesthesiologists and neurointerventionalists. UW Hospital and Clinics also offers a neurological intensive care unit with specialized nursing staff and neuro intensive care physicians.


UW Hospital and Clinics has the area's most experienced neuroradiologists and state-of-the-art imaging, including advanced MRI and MRA, comprehensive CT and CTA, conventional angiography, and transcranial Doppler ultrasound.


UW Hospital and Clinics' stroke program also recently received the Gold Performance award for consistently achieving the American Stroke Association's top guidelines, and has been certified by the Joint Commission as well.