The Impact of Inter-Hospital Transfer on Clinical Outcomes following Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke
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PURPOSE Hospitals designated as primary stroke centers offer noninvasive treatment for acute ischemic stroke, but only comprehensive stroke centers are equipped to provide endovascular treatment. When stroke patients needing endovascular treatment present to the emergency department at a primary stroke center, they then require inter-hospital transfer to a comprehensive center for definitive treatment. Recent studies have found significant treatment delays and poor clinical outcomes in patients requiring inter-hospital transfer1,2. The primary aim of this study is to determine if inter-hospital transfer impacts clinical outcomes after endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke. A secondary aim is to determine whether inter-hospital transfer coincides with any significant treatment delay. METHODS This study involves retrospective chart review for 107 patients undergoing endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke at one of three hospitals in Austin, Texas from October 2016 to September 2018. 26 patients required inter-hospital transfer, while 81 (the control group) presented directly to a hospital offering endovascular treatment. Two-tailed T- and U-tests were used for analysis of parametric and non-parametric variables pertaining to time intervals and baseline characteristics. Odds ratios were calculated to compare dichotomized outcomes between groups, with significance determined by chi-square. RESULTS Inter-hospital transfer significantly prolonged onset to groin (mean difference = 37.2 min, p=.02). The transfer group was more likely to experience intracranial hemorrhage (53.9% > 22.2%, p<.01). Clinical outcomes did not significantly differ between groups. CONCLUSIONS Although observed trends in these data suggest poor outcomes for transfer patients, small sample size limits the significance of these findings. However, the significant treatment delay seen in the transfer group warrants a discussion on city protocol changes regarding patient transport via emergency services. Protocol changes favoring direct delivery of patients to comprehensive stroke centers may reduce treatment delay and yield improved clinical outcomes.