Introduction — Since 2002, the Ontario Telestroke Program has provided hospitals in under-served regions of the province the opportunity to offer intravenous thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) to eligible patients. The purpose of this study was to determine whether telestroke-assisted IV tPA patients had similar risks of 7- and 90-day mortality, symptomatic intracerebral haemorrhage (sICH), and poor functional outcome compared to patients who received IV tPA with on-site expertise.
Methods — Data from two audits of patients with acute ischaemic stroke hospitalized in Ontario, Canada in 2010 and 2012 were analysed. We modelled the risk of all-cause death within 7 and 90 days of receiving IV tPA using proportional hazards adjusting for hospital type, patient characteristics, and whether IV tPA was administered as part of a telestroke consultation. Outcomes of sICH and modified Rankin Scale ≥ 3 at discharge were modelled using generalized estimating equations adjusting for the same variables used in the mortality model.
Results — There was no difference in 7- or 90-day mortality among those who received IV tPA with telestroke (n = 214) compared to those without (n = 1885) (7-day adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.29 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68, 2.44); 90-day aHR 1.01 (95% CI 0.67, 1.50)). Complications were similar between groups, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for sICH of 0.71 (95% CI 0.29, 1.71) and an aOR of 0.75 (95% CI 0.46, 1.23) for poor functional ability at discharge.
Discussion — Patients receiving IV tPA supported by telestroke had similar outcomes to those managed with on-site expertise.