Immediate Vascular Imaging Needed for Efficient Triage of Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke Initially Admitted to Nonthrombectomy Centers

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Background and Purpose—

Current guidelines for endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) used to select patients for transfer to thrombectomy-capable stroke centers (TSC) may result in unnecessary transfers. We sought to determine the impact of simulated baseline vascular imaging on reducing unnecessary transfers and clinical-imaging factors associated with receiving EVT after transfer.


We identified patients with stroke transferred for EVT from 30 referring hospitals between 2010 and 2016 who had a referring hospitals brain computed tomography and repeat imaging on TSC arrival available for review. Initial Alberta Stroke Program Early CT scores and TSC vascular occlusion level were assessed. The main outcome variable was receiving EVT at TSC. Models were simulated to derive optimal triaging parameters for EVT.


A total of 508 patients were included in the analysis (mean age, 69±14 years; 42% women). Application at referring hospitals of current guidelines for EVT yielded sensitivity of 92% (95% confidence interval, 0.84–0.96) and specificity of 53% (95% confidence interval, 0.48–0.57) for receiving EVT at TSC. Repeated simulations identified optimal selection criteria for transfer as National Institute of Health Stroke Scale >8 plus baseline vascular imaging (sensitivity=91%; 95% confidence interval, 0.83–0.95; and specificity=80%; 95% confidence interval, 0.75–0.83).


Our findings provide quantitative estimates of the claim that implementing vascular imaging at the referring hospitals would result in significantly fewer futile transfers for EVT and a data-driven framework to inform transfer policies.

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