Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) will deploy AI software in its emergency department this month to help clinicians quickly diagnose stroke.

Developed by Oxford-based start-up Brainomix, the software analyses CT images of the brain and blood vessels and automatically highlights blocked blood vessels and areas of possible damage,

It is designed to act as an “expert second opinion” to help doctors make faster treatment decisions.

Dr Kiruba Nagaratnam, consultant stroke physician and geriatrician, and clinical lead for stroke medicine at the RBH, said the software would transform patient care for stroke victims by removing additional “layers of complexity” in the process of reading CT scans.

“Interpreting CT brain scans is an essential part of the diagnosis and management of strokes. But this expertise is not always readily available the minute people come through the doors of ED,” said Nagaratnam.

“Time is essential and 2 million nerve cells die every minute we delay the treatment.

“The role of AI in helping non specialist doctors to rapidly identify and treat strokes at the front door when people walk into ED, is going to be a game changer.”

The deployment of the Brainomix e-stroke suite is being supported by the National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging (NCIMI), a network of 14 NHS hospitals and clinical leaders, experts from industry and academia, as well as patient groups and charities.

It was formed in 2019 following a successful bid for Industrial Strategy Challenge Funding (ISCF) to drive innovation in the UK’s AI sector, and is one of five National Centres of Excellence in AI for pathology and medical imaging.

Dr Claire Bloomfield, NCIMI CEO, said: “We are delighted to support innovative companies and hospitals like Royal Berkshire and Brainomix in the development and deployment of AI software to improve patient care.

“We hope to help the further expansion of this fantastic technology across the rest of the NCIMI network.”

The Oxford Academic Health Science Network, which is supporting this pioneering venture, also welcomed the launch of the software at the RBH.

Brainomix has received funding from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and also from NCIMI, which itself receives funding from UKRI through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Dr Michalis Papadakis, CEO of Brainomix, said: “We are very pleased to see Royal Berkshire incorporate our e-Stroke Suite software into their stroke service, and are confident our technology can deliver solutions that will help improve access to life-saving treatments for stroke patients in the region.”

Last month, an NHS team from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust reported success from tests involving the use of artificial intelligence to identify lung cancer.