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Ground-breaking medical technology which could help save the lives of hundreds of stroke patients is being pioneered at Reading's Royal Berkshire Hospital.

From left to right: Dr Varun Nelatur, Consultant Stroke Physician, RBH; Dr Kiruba Nagaratnam, Consultant Stroke Physician and Geriatrician and Clinical Lead for Stroke Medicine at the RBH; Dr George Harston, Chief Medical Officer at Brainomix; Claire Bloomfield, CEO of NCIMI.
From left to right: Dr Varun Nelatur, Consultant Stroke Physician, Royal Berkshire Hospital; Dr Kiruba Nagaratnam, Consultant Stroke Physician and Geriatrician and Clinical Lead for Stroke Medicine at the RBH; Dr George Harston, Chief Medical Officer, Brainomix and Claire Bloomfield, CEO of NCIMI.

It's the first hospital in the Thames Valley to start using the cutting-edge AI software. It is already used in hundreds of hospitals across Europe, Asia, North and South America.

The software, developed by Oxford-based Brainomix, was launched on Tuesday, February 25 - at Royal Berkshire Hospital. It will go live in March 2020 and will be used in the Emergency Department (ED) to help clinicians quickly diagnose stroke.

This in turn will speed up doctors' decision making around treatment and, when necessary, fast forward certain patients to specialist centres for clot retrieval treatment.

The AI software analyses the CT images of the brain and its blood vessels immediately after the patient has a scan, automatically highlighting the area of probable damage and the blocked blood vessel. This means it acts as an expert second opinion and helps the physicians make faster treatment decisions with confidence.

Dr Kiruba Nagaratnam, Consultant Stroke Physician and Geriatrician, and Clinical Lead for Stroke Medicine at the RBH, said the software would transform patient care for stroke victims.

He said: "Interpreting CT brain scans is an essential part of the diagnosis and management of strokes. But this expertise is not always readily available the minute people come through the doors of ED. Interpreting scans of the blood vessels adds another layer of complexity and causes delays.

"Time is essential and 2 million nerve cells die every minute we delay the treatment. The role of AI in helping non specialist doctors to rapidly identify and treat strokes at the front door when people walk into ED, is going to be a game changer."

Dr Michalis Papadakis, CEO of Brainomix, said: "We are very pleased to see Royal Berkshire incorporate our e-Stroke Suite software into their stroke service, and are confident our technology can deliver solutions that will help improve access to life-saving treatments for stroke patients in the region."

The deployment of the Brainomix e-stroke suite is being supported by NCIMI, which is for 5 Centres of Excellence in the UK supporting companies, the NHS and Universities work together with patients to collaborate on AI development in medical imaging.

Dr Claire Bloomfield, NCIMI's CEO, said: "We are delighted to support innovative companies and hospitals like Royal Berkshire and Brainomix in the development and deployment of AI software to improve patient care. We hope to help the further expansion of this fantastic technology across the rest of the NCIMI network."

The Oxford Academic Health Science Network, which is supporting this pioneering venture, also welcomed the launch of the software at the RBH.

Brainomix is a world leader in imaging software for neurological and cerebrovascular diseases, whose award-winning e-Stroke Suite provides clinicians with the most comprehensive stroke imaging solution.

National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging (NCIMI) is a network of 14 NHS hospitals, clinical leaders, industry experts in the fields of AI and medical imaging, world-leading academic researchers plus patient groups and charities. It was formed in 2019 following a successful bid for Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding (ISCF) to drive innovation in the UK's AI sector, and is one of 5 National Centres of Excellence in AI for pathology and medical imaging.

Brainomix has received funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and also from NCIMI, which itself also receives funding from UKRI through ISCF.