Reducing Delay of Carotid Endarterectomy in Acute Ischemic Stroke Patients: A Nationwide Initiative

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Abstract

Background and Purpose—

Guidelines recommend carotid endarterectomy (CEA) within 2 weeks from an ischemic event. However, previous studies have shown that only a minority of patients undergo CEA within this period. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of a multidisciplinary nationwide initiative aimed at reducing time to CEA after acute ischemic stroke.

Methods—

We examined a historic population-based observational cohort based on individual patient-level records from the Danish Stroke Registry and the Danish Vascular Registry. The implementation of early ultrasound examination of the carotids (within 4 days from admission) in medical departments coupled with fast CEA after referral to a department of vascular surgery were monitored and audited systematically from 2008 and onward.

Results—

A total of 813 acute ischemic stroke patients underwent CEA during 2007-2010. The percentage of patients undergoing CEA within 2 weeks increased from 13% in 2007 to 47% in 2010 (adjusted odds ratio, 5.8 [95% CI, 3.4–10.1]). The overall median time decreased from 31 days to 16 days. The percentage of relevant acute ischemic stroke patients receiving early ultrasound examination of the carotids increased from 41% in 2008 to 72% in 2010. The time from referral to operation at a vascular department was reduced by ≈40%.

Conclusions—

Establishing time limits of 4 days to ultrasound examination of the carotids and of 2 weeks to CEA from onset of stroke followed by a systematic multidisciplinary monitoring and auditing of processes was associated with a substantial increase in the proportion of acute ischemic stroke patients who undergo CEA within 2 weeks in Denmark.

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