Delays in the Air or Ground Transfer of Patients for Endovascular Thrombectomy
Background and Purpose—For suspected large vessel occlusion patients efficient transfer to centers that provide endovascular therapy (ET) is critical to maximizing treatment opportunity. Our objective was to examine associations between transfer time, modes of transfer, ET, and outcomes within a hub-and-spoke telestroke network.
Methods—Patients with ischemic stroke were included if transferred to a single hub hospital between January 2011 and October 2015 with National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale>6, onset<12 hours from hub arrival with complete clinical, imaging, and transfer data. Transfer time was the interval between initiation of telestroke consult and arrival at the hub. Algorithms were created for ideal transfer times; ideal time was subtracted from actual time to calculate delay. We examined bivariate relationships between transfer time and several clinical outcomes and used multivariable regression modeling to explore possible predictors of delay.
Results—Of 234 patients that met inclusion criteria, 51% were transferred by ambulance and 49% by helicopter; 27% underwent ET (36% achieved modified Rankin Scale score of 0–2 at 90 days). Median actual transfer time was 132 minutes (interquartile range, 103–165), compared with median ideal transfer time at 102 minutes (interquartile range, 96–123). Longer transfer time was associated with decreased likelihood of undergoing ET (odds ratio, 0.990; P=0.003). Nocturnal transfer (18:00 to 06:00 hours) was associated with significantly longer delay (β=20.5; P<0.0005), whereas intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) delivery at spoke hospital was not. The median delay for nocturnal transfer was 31 minutes (interquartile range, 11–51), compared with daytime at 14 minutes (interquartile range, −9 to 36).
Conclusions—Within a large telestroke network, there was an association between longer transfer time and decreased likelihood of undergoing ET. Nocturnal transfers were associated with a substantial delay relative to daytime transfers. In contrast, delivery of tPA was not associated with delays, underscoring the impact of effective protocols at spoke hospitals. More efficient transfer may enable higher ET treatment rates. Metrics and protocols for transfer, especially at night, may improve transfer times.
- Received January 5, 2018.
- Revision received March 10, 2018.
- Accepted March 23, 2018.
- © 2018 American Heart Association, Inc.