Impact of a neurointensivist on outcomes in critically ill stroke patients

Neurocrit Care. 2012 Feb;16(1):63-71. doi: 10.1007/s12028-011-9620-x.


Background: Current guidelines for management of critically ill stroke patients suggest that treatment in a neurocritical care unit (NCCU) and/or by a neurointensivist (NI) may be beneficial, but the contribution of each to outcome is unknown. The relative impact of a NCCU versus NI on short- and long-term outcomes in patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS), intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) was assessed.

Methods: 2,096 stroke patients admitted to a NCCU or nonneuro ICU at a tertiary stroke center were analyzed before the appointment of a NI, during the NI's tenure, and after the NI departed and was not replaced. Data included admission ICU type, availability of a NI, age, NIHSS, ICH score, and 3 and 12 month outcome.

Results: For AIS, compared to the time interval with a NI, departure of the NI predicted a worse rate of return to pre-stroke function at 3 months. For ICH, NCCU treatment predicted shorter ICU and hospital LOS but had no effect on short- or long-term outcomes. No effect of a NI was seen. For SAH, availability of an NI (but not an NCCU) predicted improved outcomes but longer ICU LOS. Disposition and in-hospital mortality improved when a NI was present, but continued improvement did not occur after the NI's departure.

Conclusion: Presence of an NI was associated with improved clinical outcomes. This effect was more evident in patients with SAH. Patients with ICH tend to have poor outcomes regardless of the presence of a NCCU or a NI.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Critical Illness / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units* / standards
  • Intracranial Aneurysm / therapy
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workforce