A better management of cerebrovascular accidents
Cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) are caused by a perturbation in the blood supply of the brain leading to a quick loss of cerebral functions, that is very often lethal. There are two categories of CVA: ischemic CVA (80% cases) resulting from the occlusion of a cerebral artery and haemorrhagic CVA (20% cases) provoked by a bleeding vessel.
It is nowadays a major challenge in terms of public health-care. In Western countries, one of 600 people suffers from a CVA each year and 120,000 cases are counted yearly in France.
From a medical point of view, the detection and a fast characterisation of a CVA (ischemic or haemorrhagic, each having a specific and antinomian treatment) is crucial for patient survival. The faster the treatment is, the more brain damages are reversible and the chances of cure are high. If it is important to act promptly, it is just as crucial, once the urgent phase ended, to closely monitor the evolution of the CVA for adapting, if necessary, the treatment of the patient. But a continuous monitoring needs, theoretically, an image of the brain every fifteen minutes.
Yet, today, physicians can use two imaging systems of the brain: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT (cerebral tomogram) scan. Even if these techniques are very precise – particularly MRI with a spatial resolution around a millimetre – and of high quality, their use is expensive, not well adapted to a prompt medical care as they need to be embedded in inside an ambulance, and indeed harmful in the case of a continuous monitoring with CT scan that measure the absorption of tissues by X rays.
This fully justifies the great interest of the project led by Frédéric Nataf, senior researcher at CNRS and INRIA, and his team who used amongst others the resources from GENCI and PRACE.. For the first time in the world, they have demonstrated on synthetic data the feasibility of a new imaging technique based on microwaves, allowing both the characterization of the CVA from the very first patient care in an ambulance and throughout his continuous monitoring during his hospitalisation. Winner of the 1st Bull Fourier 2015 award, the research team, gathering specialists of in Applied Mathematics (from the Universities of Paris 6, Toulouse and Nice) and of in Electronics (from Sophia Antipolis), has carried out its work in the context of an ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) project in collaboration with an Austrian innovative SME, dedicated to biomedical imaging, EMTensor.
An article about this project led by Frédéric Nataf is re-published under HPCwire.