CT Interpretation in a Telestroke Network
Agreement Among a Spoke Radiologist, Hub Vascular Neurologist, and Hub Neuroradiologist
Background and Purpose—The American Stroke Association guidelines emphasized the need for further high-quality studies that assess agreement by radiologists and nonradiologists engaged in emergency telestroke assessments and decision-making. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the level of agreement of baseline brain CT scan interpretations of patients with acute stroke presenting to telestroke spoke hospitals between central reading committee neuroradiologists and each of 2 groups, spoke hospital radiologists and hub hospital vascular neurologists (telestrokologists).
Methods—The Stroke Team Remote Evaluation Using a Digital Observation Camera Arizona trial was a prospective, urban single-hub, rural 2-spoke, randomized, blinded, controlled trial of a 2-way, site-independent, audiovisual telemedicine and teleradiology system designed for remote evaluation of adult patients with acute stroke versus telephone consultation to assess eligibility for treatment with intravenous thrombolysis. In the telemedicine arm, the subjects' CT scans were interpreted by the hub telestrokologist and in the telephone arm by the spoke radiologist. All subjects' CT scans were subsequently interpreted centrally, independently, and blindly by 2 hub neuroradiologists. The primary CT outcome was determination of a CT-based contraindication to thrombolytic treatment. Kappa statistics and exact agreement rates were used to analyze interobserver agreement.
Results—Fifty-four subjects underwent random assignment. The overall agreement for the presence of radiological contraindications to thrombolysis was excellent (0.91) and did not differ substantially between the hub telestrokologist to neuroradiologist and spoke radiologist to neuroradiologist (0.92 and 0.89, respectively).
Conclusions—In the context of a telestroke network designed to assess patients with acute stroke syndromes, agreement over the presence or absence of radiological contraindications to thrombolysis was excellent whether the comparisons were between a telestrokologist and neuroradiologist or between spoke radiologist and neuroradiologist.
- computed tomography
- randomized controlled trials
- rural health
- rural hospitals
- Received May 31, 2012.
- Revision received August 20, 2012.
- Accepted August 21, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.