Background: After thrombectomy has shown to be effective in acute stroke patients with large vessel occlusion, the potential benefit of secondary referral for such an intervention needs to be validated.
Aims: We aimed to compare consecutive stoke patients directly admitted and treated with thrombectomy at a neurointerventional centre with patients secondarily referred for such a procedure from hospitals with a stroke unit.
Methods: Periprocedure times and mortality in 300 patients primarily treated in eight neurointerventional centres were compared with 343 patients referred from nine other hospitals in a prospective multicentre study of a German neurovascular network. Data on functional outcome at 3 months was available in 430 (76.4%) patients.
Results: In-hospital mortality (14.8% versus 11.7%, p = 0.26) and 3 months mortality (21.9% versus 24.1%, p = 0.53) were not statistically different in both patient groups despite a significant shorter symptom to groin puncture time in directly admitted patients, which was mainly caused by a longer interfacility transfer time. We found a nonsignificant trend for better functional outcome at 3 months in directly admitted patients (modified Rankin Scale 0-2, 44.0% versus 35.7%, p = 0.08).
Conclusions: Our results show that a drip-and-ship thrombectomy concept can be effectively organized in a metropolitan stroke network. Every effort should be made to speed up the emergency interfacility transfer to a neurointerventional centre in stroke patients eligible for thrombectomy after initial brain imaging.
Keywords: functional outcome; ischemic stroke; mortality; periprocedural times; referral status; thrombectomy.