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University of Newcastle

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Organ System:
  • Cardiovascular
Date Funded:
  • 31 May, 2018
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Adjanie Patabendige

Death and disability from stroke is a massive burden on the healthcare system and society. In Australia, it is estimated that one million people will be living with the effects of stroke by 2050 – more than double the number of strokes in 2017. Ischaemic stroke is caused by a blocked artery, leading to a lack of blood flow and oxygen supply to a specific region of the brain supplied by that artery, resulting in brain cell death (infarction). Up to 38 per cent of ischaemic stroke patients present to hospital with mild or rapidly improving symptoms, yet final outcomes are poor, >50 per cent require assistance with self-care at three months post stroke. This delayed progression of stroke due to early neurological deterioration (END) within the first 24hrs post-stroke remains a clinically significant, yet unresolved problem – the number of patients totalling more than the annual number of new cases of multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease and motor neuron disease combined. However, its cause and the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Currently there are no guidelines or diagnostic tests that can predict the outcome of these patients. Understanding the true pathophysiology and recognising those at risk are key first steps.

Dr Patabendige and her team will use advanced medical imaging analysis and a novel non-invasive method to measure the pressure within the skull, intracranial pressure (ICP) to provide definitive evidence to confirm that ICP elevation causes infarct expansion, and that it is associated with neurological deterioration. In addition, their previous studies confirm that oedema (swelling of the brain) was not the primary cause for this ICP rise. Therefore, Dr Patabendige will investigate whether cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord) volume increase is responsible, and if confirmed, show that short-duration hypothermia reverses this.

These findings will provide evidence to confirm the cause for END, and provide for the first time a clear pathological explanation for why these patients, who seem to be improving when initially presenting to the hospital progress to neurological deterioration.

Expected key outcomes:
1. Provide significant fundamental knowledge about a highly clinically relevant, yet unresolved problem of END
2. Help future diagnosis, prevention and management of stroke patients that are at risk of developing END, thereby making a significant reduction in stroke morbidity in the longer term
3. Prove the effectiveness of a potential treatment that is safe, easy to apply and generalizable .