Background: Reducing time to treatment is important for acute stroke therapy including intravenous tPA and endovascular therapy. Remote evaluation of acute stroke patients by telemedicine may help triage patients for endovascular therapy and facilitate earlier treatment.
Purpose: We aimed to evaluate efficiency and clinical outcome using telemedicine as a screening tool prior to transfer of stroke patients to comprehensive stroke centers for endovascular therapy.
Methods: We retrospective reviewed patients receiving endovascular therapy at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from January 2014 through May 2015 who were initially evaluated for acute stroke at an outside facility and transferred to our hospital. We statistically analyzed our data using unpaired T test with equal standard deviation.
Results: 116 patients treated with endovascular therapy were identified. 35 (30.1%) had telemedicine (TM) evaluations prior to transfer and 81 (69.8%) were transferred without telemedicine screening (NTM). The average age was 68 years in TM group and 67 years in NTM group. 71% of TM patients received IV TPA compared to 30% of NTM patients. The average NIHSS on arrival was 17 among TM and 16 in NTM. The mean time from door to groin puncture was 54 minutes in TM patients compared to 66 minutes in NTM group (p=0.37). Good outcomes (mRS < 2) occurred in 54% of TM cases and 36% of the NTM group (p=0.12). Poor outcomes (mRS 5-6) were 21% in TM patients and 40% in the NTM group (p=0.08). TICI 2b/3 revascularization was achieved in 88.5% and 88.9% in TM and NTM groups respectively (p=0.2).
Conclusion: Evaluating acute stroke patients using telemedicine prior to transfer to comprehensive stroke centers may reduce time to intervention and improve selection of patients more likely to benefit from endovascular therapy.