Transfer Delay Is a Major Factor Limiting the Use of Intra-Arterial Treatment in Acute Ischemic Stroke

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Background and Purpose—The development of comprehensive stroke centers within hub-and-spoke stroke networks offers the opportunity to increase the proportion of acute ischemic stroke patients treated with intra-arterial therapies (IAT). Interhospital transfer delays will be critical in evaluating the success of this strategy.Methods—We collected data on consecutive patients who were transferred to our institution for possible IAT. We defined transfer time as time elapsed from initial transfer call to arrival at our hospital and assessed whether transfer time was a predictor of emergent angiography using multivariable logistic regression.Results—Among 132 patients referred for IAT, 53 (40.2%) were excluded on clinical grounds. The remaining 79 (59.8%) patients (mean age, 61 years; median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score, 18; 49.4% male) were analyzed. Sixty-one of 79 (77%) patients underwent emergent angiography for IAT. The median hospital-to-hospital distance was 14.7 (interquartile range, 8.5–21.9) miles and median transfer time was 104 (interquartile range, 80–135) minutes. Transfer time was 33% lower among those who underwent emergent angiography (100.6 versus 149.0 minutes; P<0.001). Adjusting for relevant covariates, transfer time remained an independent predictor of emergent angiography (OR, 0.975; 95% CI, 0.956–0.995; P=0.014). The odds of treatment decrease by 2.5% for every minute of transfer time.Conclusions—Delay in hospital-to-hospital transfer is a common reason that acute ischemic stroke patients are excluded from interventional therapy. The likelihood of receiving IAT decreases rapidly by increasing transfer time. Specific goals for transfer time should be considered in future quality standards for hub-and-spoke–organized stroke networks.

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