Editor’s note: May is National Stroke Awareness Month
MESA, Ariz. (May 17, 2019) – A stroke diagnosis tool pioneered by Banner Desert Medical Center stroke and interventional neurologist Mohamed Teleb, M.D., is helping save lives in Arizona, and has been adopted for use in the state of Louisiana and two Canadian provinces – Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
It also has been endorsed by the Society for NeuroInterventional Surgery as a potential life-saving tool.
The tool, called VAN, was invented in 2015 by Teleb for Emergency Medical Services technicians, nurses, physicians and others. It helps them quickly identify the existence of a large-vessel occlusion, a deadly stroke that, if detected early, can be treated with neuro-interventional surgery to remove a blood clot in the brain. Teleb is in the process of developing a VAN app that will help make the stroke-detection tool more easily accessible to health care professionals around the world.
VAN stands for Vision, Aphasia and Neglect, an exam to detect loss of vision or forced gaze, inability to talk, or ignoring the left side of the body. Any one of these symptoms, coupled with arm weakness, pinpoints the likelihood of large-vessel occlusion, prompting emergency staff to expedite care to potential stroke patients. They can do so by more quickly assessing the extent of the injury and ensuring appropriate patients receive a critical medical imaging procedure, particularly a CT scan, needed to begin treatment.
When EMS providers arrive at the hospital, they take a patient who appears to be having a stroke directly to a designated area near the hospital’s CT scanner in the emergency department. There, a nurse will again conduct the VAN exam. If the VAN exam is positive, the patient will undergo a CT angiogram, a medical imaging procedure to determine whether a thrombectomy is needed to remove a vein clot.
“I’m very proud VAN is being widely recognized as an important and successful tool for identifying one of the deadliest strokes,” said Teleb. “We are continuing to educate medical professionals nationally and internationally about VAN. We're also developing a curriculum for certification that will further the ability to get patients diagnosed faster, and treated in a timely manner that will save lives.”
Teleb says stroke patients treated within two hours have 70 to 90 percent chance of full recovery. The more time that passes before the large-vessel occlusion is diagnosed, the more potential for significant brain damage and even death. Performing the VAN exam can help quickly determine the patient needs life-saving, neuro-interventional surgery.
In addition to inventing VAN and conducting other research to improve stroke-patient outcomes, Teleb and the neuro team have advanced Banner Desert beyond a Primary Stroke Center. The neuro team also treats intracranial bleeds with the most up-to-date, minimally invasive techniques; uses the most advanced endovascular techniques to treat brain aneurysms; and is among Arizona's hospitals handling the highest volume of patients needing acute stroke care.
About Banner Desert Medical Center
Banner Desert Medical Center is a nonprofit hospital, providing a range of inpatient and outpatient services, including emergency services, Level I trauma care, cancer care, heart care, orthopedics, women and infant services, rehabilitation, neurological care and more. The medical center is one of the most comprehensive hospitals in Arizona and serves as a regional referral center in the East Valley of metropolitan Phoenix. The medical campus is also home to Cardon Children’s Medical Center. Both facilities are owned and operated by Banner Health, the largest provider of health care services in Arizona. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Desert.