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VIDEO: Stroke thrombectomy count jumps after 2015 landmark reports



– Use of endovascular mechanical thrombectomy for treating selected patients with acute ischemic stroke surged in U.S. practice following publication of several studies in early 2015 that documented the treatment’s efficacy, in data collected by a large U.S. hospital registry.

During April-June 2016, 3.5% of all acute ischemic stroke patients seen at the nearly 2,000 U.S. hospitals enrolled in the Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program underwent treatment with endovascular thrombectomy, up from the 2% rate at the end of 2014,The new data he reported also showed substantial increases for other measures of thrombectomy use during a roughly 18-month period that followed a flurry of reports in late 2014 and early 2015 that presented clear evidence of the safety and efficacy of thrombectomy for selected ischemic stroke patients. The percentage of hospitals participating in the Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program that performed thrombectomies increased from about a quarter of enrolled hospitals at the end of 2014 to almost a third by mid 2016, and the average quarterly number of endovascular thrombectomy cases at hospitals offering the procedure rose from about 7 during the final 3 months of 2014 to about 12 during July-September 2016, reported Dr. Smith, a neurologist and medical director of the Cognitive Neurosciences Clinic at the University of Calgary (Alta.).

“Before 2015, we saw a slow increase in the use of intra-arterial therapy, but after studies showed it was effective, there was an acceleration in the proportion of hospitals providing this therapy, the number of cases treated at each hospital, and the number of ischemic stroke patients treated,” Dr. Smith said in a video interview. “This shows rapid uptake of endovascular thrombectomy, but we still have a ways to go.”

He estimated that roughly 10%-15% of all U.S. acute ischemic stroke patients are eligible for endovascular thrombectomy based on location of the occluding clot in a large cerebral artery and the time frame when patients appear at a thrombectomy hospital relative to their stroke onset. This suggests that by mid-2016, roughly 20%-33% of U.S. ischemic stroke patients eligible for thrombectomy actually received the treatment.

“I don’t think we should be satisfied until we treat every eligible patient as quickly as we can. We need to move toward 100%,” he said.

The analyses he reported came from data collected on more than 2.4 million ischemic stroke patients treated at more than 2,200 U.S. hospitals participating in the Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program during 2003-2016.

The 2016 data also showed that, while the median thrombectomy annual case volume from mid-2015 to mid-2016 was 32 patients per year at thrombectomy hospitals, about 5% of these centers performed 100 or more cases during this 1-year period, and about 10% performed 10 or fewer thrombectomy cases. “There may be a relationship between case volume and the skill of performing the procedure, and a potential need for a volume minimum for thrombectomy certification to ensure that centers and operators maintain their skills,” Dr. Smith said.

He contrasted the recent pace of thrombectomy uptake with the first few years of routine thrombolytic treatment for the same disease during the mid-1990s, when little uptake occurred. Dr. Smith attributed the more robust penetration of thrombectomy to several factors: the impressive benefit of the treatment, the concurrent reporting of several confirmatory studies, and the stronger acute stroke–care infrastructure now in place, compared with what was available to stroke patients a generation ago.

“It’s encouraging to see such early growth in thrombectomy when thrombolysis lagged for so many years,” Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith had no disclosures. Get With the Guidelines-Stroke is a program of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association using funding provided by several drug companies.

Eric E. Smith, MD, said at the International Stroke Conference, sponsored by the American Heart Association.

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