Telemedicine can provide stroke evaluations in locations with limited available expertise. The reliability of telestroke has been established. Decision making efficacy has been shown in the National Institutes of Health's STRokE DOC trial. No prospective trial has assessed long-term telestroke outcomes, however. In an institutional review board-approved trial (NCT00936455), we contacted patients originally enrolled in the STRokE DOC trial. A telephone script was used to verify consent. Patients were asked standardized questions regarding disposition, modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score, mortality, and recurrent stroke for 2 retrospective time points (6 and 12 months postevent) and one current time point. Blind was maintained. Primary outcome measures of mortality and percent mRS score of 0-1 [%mRS(0-1)] at 6 months are reported. Wilcoxon's rank-sum test was used for continuous variables, and Fisher's exact was used for categorical variables. Of the original 222 participants, 75 patients or surrogates could be contacted. Mean time from enrollment was 3.96 ± 1.0 years (range, 2.33-5.45 years). Mean National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was 8 ± 7 (5 ± 8 for telephone; 12 ± 8 for telemedicine; P = .002). The rate of intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) use was 31%. Six-month %mRS(0-1) outcome was not different, at 42%. Mortality after imputation to the entire study sample also was not different, at 18%. There was no difference in the rate of recurrent stroke (P = .61). Some 85% of patients were home at 6 months. This study reports a good 6-month outcome for stroke patients evaluated by telemedicine or telephone. This design is limited by the time since original enrollment and resultant inability to contact participants. Although these findings can add to the limited data on telemedicine outcomes, a prospective trial is needed.
Copyright © 2012 National Stroke Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.