Stroke Thrombolysis in a Centralized and a Decentralized System (Helsinki and Telemedical Project for Integrative Stroke Care Network)
Background and Purpose—Intravenous thrombolysis with tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) for acute ischemic stroke is more effective when delivered early. Timely delivery is challenging particularly in rural areas with long distances. We compared delays and treatment rates of a large, decentralized telemedicine-based system and a well-organized, large, centralized single-hospital system.
Methods—We analyzed the centralized system of the Helsinki University Central Hospital (Helsinki and Province of Uusimaa, Finland, 1.56 million inhabitants, 9096 km2) and the decentralized TeleStroke Unit network in a predominantly rural area (Telemedical Project for Integrative Stroke Care [TEMPiS], South-East Bavaria, Germany, 1.94 million inhabitants, 14 992 km2). All consecutive tPA treatments were prospectively registered. We compared tPA rates per total ischemic stroke admissions in the Helsinki and TEMPiS catchment areas. For delay comparisons, we excluded patients with basilar artery occlusions, in-hospital strokes, and those being treated after 270 minutes.
Results—From January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2013, 912 patients received tPA in Helsinki University Central Hospital and 1779 in TEMPiS hospitals. Area-based tPA rates were equal (13.0% of 7017 ischemic strokes in the Helsinki University Central Hospital area versus 13.3% of 14 637 ischemic strokes in the TEMPiS area; P=0.078). Median prehospital delays were longer (88; interquartile range, 60–135 versus 65; 48–101 minutes; P<0.001) but in-hospital delays were shorter (18; interquartile range, 13–30 versus 39; 26–56 minutes; P<0.001) in Helsinki University Central Hospital compared with TEMPiS with no difference in overall delays (117; interquartile range, 81–168 versus 115; 87–155 minutes; P=0.45).
Conclusions—A decentralized telestroke thrombolysis service can achieve similar treatment rates and time delays for a rural population as a centralized system can achieve for an urban population.
- Received June 1, 2016.
- Revision received September 14, 2016.
- Accepted October 5, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.