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Portable CT scanner allows brain specialists to treat patients at bedside

Published 26/02/2016

The new portable CT scanner enables doctors to scan patients brains without moving them to another area of the hospital (University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust/PA)
The new portable CT scanner enables doctors to scan patients brains without moving them to another area of the hospital (University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust/PA)

Brain specialists at a UK hospital are the first in Europe to provide life-saving resuscitation, imaging and surgery at patients' bedsides.

Clinicians on the neurointensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton General Hospital have called the development a "major milestone" in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients that could transform clinical practice.

It has been made possible through the use of a new £150,000 portable CT scanner - donated by fundraising group Percy's Pals - which enables doctors to scan patients on the unit rather than transport them across hospital to an imaging suite.

Neurosurgeons can then perform an emergency image-guided procedure, known as an external ventricular drain, at the same time to release fluid from the brain and reduce pressure on the skull.

Previously, patients had to be transferred to a scanner by three members of staff - a consultant, medical technician and nurse - for imaging, then taken to theatre if they required a ventricular drain or other emergency surgery.

Dr Roger Lightfoot, director of the NICU at Southampton General, said: "Timing is everything when it comes to neurological conditions and any deterioration needs to be diagnosed as quickly as possible so pressure can be taken off of the brain rapidly to give a patient the best possible chance of a good recovery.

"The portable CT scanner not only enables instant imaging, it means we no longer have to move critically ill patients away from the safety of the intensive care unit and we can perform emergency procedures at the bedside - it really is a major milestone in neurointensive care treatment."

To find out more about Percy's Pals and how to support the group, visit www.percyspals.com.

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