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Houston’s mobile stroke unit receives new look, capabilities

New graphics, a CT scanner and equipment for testing and treatment have been added to Houston’s Mobile Stroke Unit

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Houston’s Mobile Stroke Unit.

Memorial Hermann/Newswise

By Bill Carey

HOUSTON — Houston’s Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU), the first of its kind in the U.S., has been upgraded with new imaging and treatment features, according to a press release from the Memorial.

The upgrades to the MSU, which were supported by the Memorial Hermann Foundation, include a new CT scanner for stroke identification, along with upgraded equipment for blood tests and administering clot-busting drugs for ischemic strokes, the press release states.

“By identifying strokes faster and starting treatment sooner, the MSU saves precious minutes when a stroke patient is losing nearly half a million brain cells per second,” said Dr. James Grotta, director of stroke research for the Clinical Institute for Research and Innovation at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center said. “It is a tremendous benefit to the community, backed by nearly 10 years of research.”

For the past decade, the MSU team conducted a trial comparing the outcomes of patients receiving MSU care with those receiving standard EMS care. They found that patients evaluated, imaged, and treated by the MSU team, then transported to the emergency room, had better outcomes:

  • 20% more patients received treatment,
  • Those patients who were treated received the clot-busting drug 40 minutes faster, and
  • 10 times more patients were treated within the first critical hour compared to standard management

“On average, the MSU is treating one to two patients each day, with more than 1,500 patients treated since we launched the service – and that’s just in the city of Houston,” Dr. Grotta said. “Our long-term goal is to expand the program to include surrounding EMS agencies, and eventually to add more units to serve more patients.”