The Easy Way to Detect Strokes
A bedside electronic device can now determine whether a patient with severe dizziness has had a stroke, or suffers from another condition.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said that device, a video-oculography machine, could help save health-care costs. “We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on expensive stroke work-ups that are unnecessary,” lead author David Newman-Toker, MD, said in a statement. “And [we’re] probably missing the chance to save tens of thousands of lives because we aren’t properly diagnosing their dizziness or vertigo as stroke symptoms."
To diagnose whether a patient has had a stroke or is suffering a more benign condition (for example, vertigo due to an inner-ear disorder), specialists have been analyzing three eye movements by visual observation of the patient.
Although that test has been shown to be accurate, the video-oculography machine is a more sophisticated method that shows physicians minute eye movements they might be unable to detect without the device.
The device, hooked up to software that records the tiniest eye movements, requires the patient to wear thick goggles.
Newman-Toker said that there are four million emergency-room visits per year related to severe, continuous dizziness, and that an estimated 500,000 involve patients at high risk for stroke. Many ER doctors, he said, can’t distinguish between stroke and a benign condition, and as a result order expensive MRIs that would be unnecessary if the device was used.
The findings were published in the journal Stroke.