JULY 2009

Latisha Ali, M.D. (in monitor) performs virtual examination.

UCLA Transmits Stroke Expertise to Other Hospitals

UCLA stoke experts are using live video connections to help emergency physicians at other hospitals in the community assess patients with acute stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke-like conditions. “Within 15 minutes of a call to the UCLA TeleStroke Hotline, our doctors can begin a ‘virtual’ examination and perform the stroke-specific neurologic exam through the two-way video connection. We can also access the patient’s CT scans and other diagnostic images performed at the community hospital,” notes Latisha Ali, M.D., director of the UCLA Telestroke Network Partner Program.

Time and expertise are of the essence in the treatment of stroke, a neurological emergency in which an area of the brain is not getting the blood it needs to survive, often due to a clot in the blood supply. The only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of acute stroke, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), can dissolve clots and restore blood flow to the affected area of the brain, but carries the risk of serious complications. When used properly by an experienced physician, the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, but it is important to quickly decide the type of stroke the patient is experiencing in order to determine if tPA is an appropriate treatment. Many hospitals don’t have the resources available at all times to make that determination. The UCLA Telestroke Network Partner Program can provide the necessary expertise as needed, up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability,” explains Dr. Ali. “Like a heart attack, stroke is an emergency condition that requires immediate care. We can often prevent permanent disability by quickly administering the appropriate treatment.”