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Predictors of diagnostic neuroimaging delays in adult Ontario patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of acute stroke in Ontario: a prospective cohort study


Background — Many studies have examined the timeliness of thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke, but less is known about door-to-imaging time. We conducted a prospective cohort study to assess the timing of neuroimaging among patients with suspected acute stroke in the province of Ontario, Canada, and to examine factors associated with delays in neuroimaging.

Methods — We included all patients 18 years and older with suspected acute stroke seen at hospitals with neuroimaging capacity within the Ontario Stroke Registry between Apr. 1, 2010, and Mar. 31, 2011. We used a hierarchical, multivariable Cox proportional hazards model to evaluate the association between patient and hospital factors and the likelihood of receiving timely neuroimaging (≤ 25 min) after arrival in the emergency department.

Results — A total of 13 250 patients presented to an emergency department with stroke-like symptoms during the study period. Of the 3984 who arrived within 4 hours after symptom onset, 1087 (27.3%) had timely neuroimaging. The factors independently associated with an increased likelihood of timely neuroimaging were less time from symptom onset to presentation, more severe stroke, male sex, no history of stroke or transient ischemic attack, arrival to hospital from a setting other than home and presentation to a designated stroke centre or an urban hospital.

Interpretation — A minority of patients with stroke-like symptoms who presented within the 4-hour thrombolytic treatment window received timely neuroimaging. Neuroimaging delays were influenced by various patient and hospital factors, some of which are modifiable.



Burton KR, Kapral MK, Li S, Fang J, Moody AR, Krahn M, Laupacis A. CMAJ Open. 2016; 4(2):E331-7.

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Contributing ICES Scientists