Defining the Role of the Stroke Physician During Endovascular Therapy of Acute Ischemic Stroke
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Six recent trials and a patient-level meta-analysis have demonstrated the superiority of endovascular therapy (EVT) compared with standard care (including intravenous alteplase) among patients with large-artery anterior circulation strokes.1–7 The absolute benefit of EVT was substantial in these trials, and EVT now requires careful implementation and optimization in real-world settings to provide all eligible patients with this new standard of care. Parallel rather than serial workflow, with team members having well-defined roles, is a crucial element in providing rapid and effective delivery of acute stroke care.8
There is little or no literature on the division of labor or the expected role for each individual in this setting, and existing stroke guidelines do not elaborate on this issue. Although each system may require customization, it is clear is that there must be physician leadership outside of the angiography suite, a physician in addition to the neurointerventionalist (who is most commonly a radiologist, but who may be a neurosurgeon or neurologist) in the angiography suite, and a physician to coordinate care between the other stroke team members throughout the periprocedural period. We suggest that it is necessary to designate a physician to fulfill these roles during the EVT process, and we have termed herein the individual fulfilling this role the stroke physician.
The stroke physician must work in close collaboration with the neurointerventionalist to optimize the speed, efficiency, and safety of EVT, elements which are critical to enhancing patient outcomes. A proposed division of physician roles is shown in Table, with emphasis on parallel rather than serial workflow. The administration of intravenous alteplase is ideally performed under the guidance of a stroke physician with specialized training in stroke care. This is most often a neurologist but may also be an emergency physician, geriatrician, internist, or family physician, …