Research Article| Volume 31, ISSUE 1, 106209, January 2022

The Role of Vascular Imaging atReferral Centers in the Drip and Ship Paradigm



      In drip-and-ship protocols, non-invasive vascular imaging (NIVI) at Referral Centers (RC), although recommended, is not consistently performed and its value is uncertain. We evaluated the role of NIVI at RC, comparing patients with (VI+) and without (VI-) vascular imaging in several outcomes.


      Observational, multicenter study from a prospective government-mandated population-based registry of code stroke patients. We selected acute ischemic stroke patients, initially assessed at RC from January-2016 to June-2020. We compared and analyzed the rates of patients transferred to a Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) for Endovascular Treatment (EVT), rates of EVT and workflow times between VI+ and VI- patients.


      From 5128 ischemic code stroke patients admitted at RC; 3067 (59.8%) were VI+, 1822 (35.5%) were secondarily transferred to a CSC and 600 (11.7%) received EVT. Among all patients with severe stroke (NIHSS ≥16) at RC, a multivariate analysis showed that lower age, thrombolytic treatment, and VI+ (OR:1.479, CI95%: 1.117-1.960, p=0.006) were independent factors associated to EVT.
      The rate of secondary transfer to a CSC was lower in VI+ group (24.6% vs. 51.6%, p<0.001). Among transferred patients, EVT was more frequent in VI+ than VI- (48.6% vs. 21.7%, p<0.001).
      Interval times as door-in door-out (median-minutes 83.5 vs. 82, p= 0.13) and RC-Door to puncture (median-minutes 189 vs. 178, p= 0.47) did not show differences between both groups.


      In the present study, NIVI at RC improves selection for EVT, and is associated with receiving EVT in severe stroke patients. Time-metrics related to drip-and-ship model were not affected by NIVI.

      Key Words


      NIVI (Noninvasive vascular imaging), VI+ (Patients with noninvasive vascular imaging), VI- (Patients without noninvasive vascular imaging), RC (Referral Centers), CSC (Comprehensive Stroke Centers), EVT (Endovascular Treatment), LVO (Large Vessel Occlusion), CTA (Computed Angiography), DIDO (Door-in Door-out time), NIHSS (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale), RACE (rapid arterial occlusion evaluation scale), rcDTP (RC-Door to CSC-Puncture time), CICAT (Codi Ictus Catalunya Registry)
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