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Interv Neurol. 2018 Oct;7(6):347-358. doi: 10.1159/000487334. Epub 2018 May 31.

Review of the Mobile Stroke Unit Experience Worldwide.

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Mercy Health-St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo, Ohio, USA.
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, Ohio, USA.
Mercy Health-St. Rita Medical Center, Lima, Ohio, USA.



The treatment of stroke is dependent on a narrow therapeutic time window that requires interventions to be emergently pursued. Despite recent "FAST" initiatives that have underscored "time is brain," many patients still fail to present within the narrow time window to receive maximum treatment benefit from advanced stroke therapies, including recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and mechanical thrombectomy. The convergence of emergency medical services, telemedicine, and mobile technology, including transportable computed tomography scanners, has presented a unique opportunity to advance patient stroke care in the prehospital field by shortening time to hyperacute stroke treatment with a mobile stroke unit (MSU).


In this review, we provide a look at the evolution of the MSU into its current status as well as future directions. Our summary statement includes historical and implementation information, economic cost, and published clinical outcome and time metrics, including the utilization rate of thrombolysis.

Key Messages:

Initially hypothesized in 2003, the first MSUs were launched in Germany and adopted worldwide in acute, prehospital stroke management. These specialized ambulances have made the diagnosis and treatment of many neurological emergencies, in addition to ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, possible at the emergency site. Providing treatment as early as possible, including within the prehospital phase of stroke management, improves patient outcomes. As MSUs continue to collect data and improve their methods, shortened time metrics are expected, resulting in more patients who will benefit from faster treatment of their acute neurological emergencies in the prehospital field.


Emergency medical services; Mobile stroke unit; Prehospital stroke treatment; Stroke management; Thrombolysis

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