They use microwaves to detect stroke
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and serious disabilities globally. After nearly ten years of research and development, starting at Chalmers, Medfield Diagnostics Strokefinder is approved to be used clinically on the European market. It detects stroke at an early stage, enabling early diagnostics and improved outcome for the patient.
Every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke, according to WHO. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are left permanently disabled. And the number of strokes continues to increase, driven by an ageing population.
Relevant treatment at an early stage is crucial to save lives and reduce brain damage and subsequent dysfunction for stroke patients. This is where Medfield Diagnostics wants to make a difference.
"The skull is difficult to examine. With our technology, we send microwaves through the brain and use algorithms to categorize and structure the signals. By analyzing a large amount of stroke patients, we have 'taught' our stroke detector to distinguish signals from stroke patients from healthy ones, for more accurate diagnoses at an early stage and faster initiation of relevant treatment," says Stefan Blomsterberg, CEO at Medfield Diagnostics.
Medfield Diagnostics was founded in 2005 by professor Mikael Persson and associate professor Andreas Fhager at Chalmers, after several years of research of microwave technology. Stefan Blomsterberg, an engineer who had been working with business development in the medtech industry since 2002, joined as a member of the board in 2016 and became CEO in 2017. The company’s first product Strokefinder is now ready to be launched.
Strokefinder is built to be used in pre-hospital environments like ambulances and emergency departments. The device weights sex kilo and it takes two minutes to examinate the brain to detect a stroke. Strokefinder would also be of high value for patients in places far away from advanced healthcare, like oil platforms, airports or at sea, according to Stefan Blomsterberg.
"Many compare our development journey to the development journey of the defibrillator, and I believe it can be used in a similar way in the future. For example, if you suspect a person is having a stroke, you can use Strokefinder to know for sure. When the examination is finished, Strokefinder can send the results directly to the emergency dispatch and at the same time specify the position to enable immediate transportation to hospital," he says.
In June Medfield Diagnostics received the CE certificate for Strokefinder, which means the product can be marketed, sold and used clinically on the European market. A big step forward for the company, says Stefan Blomsterberg, but the work to further develop the technology continues. By analyzing large amounts of patient data the goal is develop algorithms that can detect more ailments.
"We want to continue to develop the technology in the stroke area to be able to identify both clots and bleedings in the brain. Our next focus is also to detect bleedings in the torso caused by traumatic injuries, like road accidents or falls."
Microwave technology’s ability to demonstrate contrast between healthy and diseased tissue might be of future use in several areas in the medical field. Stefan Blomsterberg also believes machine learning will play an important part in future health care. By using algorithms to quickly analyse data and deliver results, healthcare service providers can make better decisions on patient's diagnoses and treatment options.
"I believe a combination of different algorithms and techniques will help the clinics to a great extent in the future," says Stefan Blomsterberg.
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