MOBILE STROKE UNIT
The first hour after stroke onset is a major factor in stroke outcome and the MSU treats 5 times as many patients in this critical time window compared to standard hospital treatment.
Stroke therapy is highly time critical and the only way to treat more quickly than current best practice is to treat pre-hospital. Multiple international proof-of-concept studies have demonstrated the feasibility of brain scan (CT) equipped ambulances called Mobile Stroke Units (MSUs). We have built Australia’s first ever Mobile Stroke Unit (“Stroke CT Ambulance”) which will enable us to diagnose and treat stroke before the patient arrives in hospital.
The project is supported by our major Partners: RMH, Ambulance Victoria, Stroke Foundation, RMH Neuroscience Foundation, University of Melbourne and Florey Instutute. Special thanks are also owed to the generous support provided by our anonymous philanthropic donors.
The Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) is a custom-built specialised Ambulance Victoria vehicle that comes fully-equipped with a built-in CereTom® CT scanner and a crew of acute stroke Specialists. It can perform hospital grade brain scans (including angiographic studies) in a prehospital or community-based setting. Our MSU wokrforce is specifically trained to deal with this. We have 8 radiographers, 4 nurses, 10 neurologist, 18 paramedics.
The onboard MSU team consists of two paramedics (including one Mobile Intensive Care MICA paramedic), a CT radiographer, a stroke neurologist and a stroke nurse specialist.
Patients will be taken to the geographically closest primary stroke centre, unless advanced treatment is required (e.g. ECR or neurosurgery), which may necessitate transporting patients to a specialist primary or comprehensive center. Prehospital notification will be given to receiving hospitals, which include: Royal Melbourne, St Vincent’s, Alfred, Western Sunshine, Northern Epping, Monash Medical Centre Clayton, Austin, and Box Hill.
The Melbourne MSU has dramatically reduced the time to treatment for stroke patients. Early results show that MSU arrival to treatment time with blood clot dissolving drugs (thrombolysis) on board has been reduced to 40 minutes, in comparison the average door to clot busting treatment time nationally of 72 minutes.
The first hour after stroke onset is a major factor in stroke outcome and the MSU treats 4 times as many patients in this critical time window compared to standard hospital treatment. Access to clot removal treatment, for those clots too big to be dissolved, has been greatly improved because the stroke ambulance delivers appropriate patients straight to specialist centers delivering this treatment, cutting inter- hospital transfer times by 2 hours per patient.
MOBILE STROKE UNIT AND AUSTRALIAN STROKE ALLIANCE UPDATE
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. Stephen Davis and Prof. Geoffrey Donnan sat down to discuss both the impact of the virus and the pioneering work being undertaken to transform stroke care in this country, at a national level, via the establishment of the Australian Stroke Alliance.