Endovascular treatment for ischemic stroke with the drip-and-ship model-Insights from the German Stroke Registry

Front Neurol. 2022 Aug 23;13:973095. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2022.973095. eCollection 2022.


Background: Endovascular therapy (EVT) in acute ischemic stroke has been widely established. Globally, stroke patients are transferred either directly to a thrombectomy center (DC) or a peripheral stroke unit with a "drip-and-ship" (DS) model. We aimed to determine differences between the DS and DC paradigms after EVT of acute stroke patients with large-vessel-occlusion (LVO) in the database of the German Stroke Registry (GSR).

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of GSR patients between June 2015 and December 2019 in 23 German centers. Primary outcome was an ordinal shift analysis of modified Rankin Scale (mRS) 90 days after index event. Secondary endpoints included time from symptom onset to recanalization and complications. Tertiary endpoint was the association of imaging strategies in DS admissions with outcome.

Results: 2,813 patients were included in the DS and 3,819 in the DC group. After propensity score matching mRS after 90 days was higher in DS than DC admissions (OR 1.26; 95%-CI 1.13-1.40). Time from symptom-onset to flow-restoration was shorter in DC than DS (median 199.0 vs. 298.0 min; p < 0.001). DS patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; n=183) before EVT had a lower 90-day mRS than without (n = 944) (OR 0.63; 95%-CI 0.45-0.88). ASPECTS assessed on MRI correlated with 90-day mRS (ρ = -0.326; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Clinical outcome was worse for EVT-eligible patients in the DS setting, even though patients were in a better state of health prior to stroke. A potentially mutable factor was the time delay of 99 min from symptom-onset to successful recanalization. Performing MRI before thrombectomy was associated with good outcome and MRI-ASPECTS was negatively correlated with mRS after 90 days.

Keywords: direct-to-center; drip-and-ship; endovascular treatment; ischemic stroke; mechanical thrombectomy.