Four questions

Four questions to Andreas Fhager by Gunilla Brocker

The research project “Strokefinder” will be tested in the NHS hospitals in the UK and Ireland. Associate Professor Andreas Fhager and Professor Mikael Persson, Department of Signals and Systems at Chalmers University of Technology, manages the research project.

Vinnova and the Swedish Trade Council is investing in Strokefinder International testbeds UK 2012. What does this mean?– Strokefinder can now be installed on some of the most prominent hospitals in the UK and Ireland. The opportunity to test our equipment on patients, in collaboration with leading UK and Irish specialists in stroke, is very exciting and important for future research.

Is the technology close to an international breakthrough now?
– It is a big step in that direction anyway. Michael and I have worked together to develop the basic microwave technology for several years, and before it can be used on a wide scale it is now required that we can prove that the technology works in practice in a number of successful clinical trials. And winning broad acceptance internationally is crucial for Strokefinder’s future.

– The goal is that it will eventually become standard equipment in hospitals and ambulances worldwide. Now even wider array physicians and opinion leaders in the international arena gets the opportunity to get to know the new technology, which we believe may represent a paradigm shift in stroke care.

Strokefinder provides a very rapid diagnosis compared with current methods. What does that mean for the people who suffer a stroke?
– With prompt diagnosis and treatment the patients will get dramatically improved chances of survival, and will avoid permanent damage and disability. Of the approximately 30.000 people each year suffer a stroke in Sweden, it is about 25.000 caused by blood clots. These can be very successfully treated with anticoagulant medication, which need inserted within four hours. But today it’s just barely 2000 thrombosis patients have time to be diagnosed in time to be able to get this treatment. We miss thus providing treatment in time to the 23.000 stroke victims a year in Sweden!

– But with our Strokefinder in place in the ambulance would allow diagnosis and start treatment directly on a large number of patients. In the other 5.000 people stroke caused by bleeding, which could not be treated with drain cleaners, as it aggravates the injury. But forensic assessment is a battle of time even for this group, which is taken care of in other ways.

This is of course an invention originating in the Chalmers Research. Tell us a little about the development of technology?– During the late 90s I worked with Michael to respond to the issue of cell phone radiation had no adverse health effects on humans. It is an extremely difficult question that still employs many researchers worldwide. Michael realized, however, that different tissue types provide different impact on the radiation pattern on its way through the body. Why not use the power of medical diagnostics?

– It was then, in 2001, I started working with him to develop this technology. The work was first in developing algorithms and measurement systems. When we were told by various doctors at Sahlgrenska that today’s slow diagnosis of stroke patients was a major problem, we realized that the microwave could be the solution. Today conducted research in a larger team with different areas of expertise, in collaboration with several different partners at Chalmers University of Technology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Medfield Diagnostics AB.