Introduction: Selection of patients for endovascular therapy (EVT) may depend on the hospital providing first line assessment. In our collaborative stroke network, we aimed to compare clinical characteristics and outcomes in ischemic stroke patients undergoing EVT who were transferred from telestroke hospitals following teleconsultation and in those transferred from hospitals providing on-site neurology service.
Methods: We analyzed prospectively collected data from consecutive ischemic stroke patients who underwent emergent EVT at our comprehensive stroke center (01/2010 to 12/2014) after acute transfer from either telestroke hospitals or non-telestroke hospitals with on-site neurology service. We compared baseline characteristics, onset-to-EVT time, symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (sICH), favorable functional outcome (mRS 0-2) at discharge and in-hospital mortality.
Results: Among 133 transferred patients who underwent emergent EVT: median age 67 years (IQR, 15); 56% men; median NIHSS score 17 (21); 52% had anterior and 48% posterior circulation stroke. Sixty-five patients (49%) were transferred from telestroke and 68 (51%) from non-telestroke hospitals. Telestroke patients were less severely affected (median NIHSS scores: 15  vs. 22 ; p=.0005) and more likely to have anterior circulation stroke (69% vs. 35%; p<.0001) compared with non-telestroke patients. No between-group differences were present with regard to demographics, vascular risk factors, intravenous tPA rate and onset-to-EVT time. In-hospital mortality was lower among telestroke compared with non-telestroke patients (11% vs. 26%; p=.026). There were no differences in sICH (5% vs. 4%; p=1.0) and favorable functional outcome (17% vs. 18%; p=1.0).
Conclusions: Patients transferred from telestroke hospitals were twice as often treated for anterior circulation stroke than those from non-telestroke neurological hospitals within our stroke network. This might be explained by more conservative selection of patients potentially amenable for EVT in hospitals harboring on-site neurology service but no EVT-capability. As our data was acquired prior to evidence from the positive EVT trials, further research is warranted to elaborate these findings.