Patterns of Acute Ischemic Stroke Treatment from 2010 to 2020: An Evolving Landscape in Stroke Management Following Thrombectomy Trials

Neurol Clin Pract. 2024 Jun;14(3):e200297. doi: 10.1212/CPJ.0000000000200297. Epub 2024 Apr 15.


Background and objectives: Population-based studies on stroke can help guide the care of patients with acute ischemic stroke (AIS) by providing health care communities with information regarding the current usage of stroke treatments. It remains unclear how rapidly new techniques, particularly endovascular stroke treatment (EST), are being adopted and whether there is any disparity in their availability. Although studies using the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) have been conducted, updated studies over a longer period may provide further insights. This study aimed to understand patterns of AIS treatment, discharge disposition, in-hospital mortality, and mean length of stay (LOS) for each modality from 2010 to 2020 using the NIS database.

Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study was conducted using NIS data from 2010 to 2020. Patients were categorized into groups based on whether they received intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA), EST, both rt-PA and EST (combined therapy), or supportive care alone. Demographic, socioeconomic, regional, insurance, and hospital data were also obtained. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients receiving each modality, whereas the secondary outcomes were in-hospital mortality, mean LOS, and discharge disposition.

Results: The usage rates increased (p < 0.001) in all groups between 2010 and 2020 (rt-PA: 5.09% to 8.39%, EST: 0.31% to 4.40%, and rt-PA+EST: 0.46% to 1.09%). The highest increase in usage was observed for EST, with a thirteen-fold increase. Mortality decreased from 2010 to 2020 in all groups (rt-PA: 8.45% to 3.54%, EST: 25.22% to 12.50%, and rt-PA+EST: 21.12% in 2010 to 9.30%) (p < 0.001). Combination therapy demonstrated the greatest improvement, with an 11.2% reduction in absolute mortality. Mean LOS was reduced for patients who received rt-PA (6.8 to 4.8 days), EST (9.3 to 8.9 days), and combined therapy (10.0 to 8.3 days) (p < 0.001) over the study period. The proportion of patients discharged to home increased for rt-PA (29.01% to 41.85%), EST (14.13% to 17.70%), and combined therapy (12.89% to 24.29%) (p < 0.001). Overall, stroke treatment usage was higher among the higher income groups, regardless of race. Higher usage was also observed for Whites in the West and Hispanic ethnicities in the South and West. Regardless of income or treatment method, utilization rates were lower for Black patients. Utilization rates were lower for Black patients with Medicare, Medicaid, or self-pay than for White patients.

Discussion: Our study demonstrated that endovascular stroke treatment continues to expand, leading to better outcomes for mortality, LOS, and home discharge. Despite these positive patterns, there are visible inequities across regions, income status, and races.