Background: IV thrombolysis represents the most effective acute stroke therapy. However, it is almost exclusively performed in stroke centers and is not available in most community areas. The Telemedical Pilot Project for Integrative Stroke Care (TEMPiS) was started in February 2003. Twelve community hospitals with no or very limited stroke thrombolysis experience and two stroke centers were connected via a network providing online neurologic examination and transfer of neuroradiologic scans. Following recently published preliminary results on acute phase safety of telethrombolysis, the present study reports on its long-term functional outcome.
Methods: Modified Rankin Scale (mRS), Barthel Index (BI), and mortality rate were prospectively collected 3 and 6 months after IV thrombolysis in patients of community network hospitals (telemedical group) and the stroke centers. Values of 95/100 for the BI and 0/1 for the mRS were defined as a favorable outcome.
Results: Over the first 22 months, 170 patients were treated with tPA in the telemedical hospitals and 132 in the stroke center hospitals. Mortality rates were 11.2% vs 11.5% at 3 months (p = 0.55) and 14.2% vs 13% at 6 months (p = 0.45). A good functional outcome after 6 months was found in 39.5% of the telemedical hospitals vs 30.9% of the stroke centers (p = 0.10) for the mRS and 47.1% vs 44.8% (p = 0.44) regarding the BI.
Conclusions: Mortality rates and functional outcomes for telemedicine-linked community hospitals and stroke centers were similar and comparable to the results from randomized trials.