Access to CT scanning has risen in importance, particularly with the tight timescales for stroke thrombolysis. However, scanners still have a relatively high cost, in many cases too much for smaller community hospitals to justify (or have space for). This means that stroke patients can only achieve thrombolysis if rapid identification, assessment and transport to mainland facilities are available.
Yet rural populations often have a larger proportion of patients who are at risk of cerebroembolic events, to the extent that such presentations can be considered common. The challenges of accessing CT facilities were raised in a recent article in the Scottish Medical Journal (Todd & Anderson, 2009)
So it’s interesting that the Summer edition of the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine includes an article about the use of portable CT head scanners. These are lower in cost, require less space and – as the article highlights – potentially more feasible for the community hospital setting.
So what does it look like? There are various videos on YouTube but most are quite dated. The best I could find was this video about similar scanners which are used for paediatric imaging in the USA.
If/when we emerge from the current cutbacks, perhaps this is on the horizon for our rural hospitals, stored next to the portable Xray machine?!