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Internventional radiologists key to increasing access to thrombectomies

Training interventional radiologists to perform endovascular thrombectomies results in positive outcomes for patients experiencing stroke, according to a study presented at the recent Society of Interventional Radiology Annual Scientific Meeting ( Expanding access to this treatment provides patients timely access to this gold-standard treatment.

With a limited availability of providers, thrombectomy is only available to 2 to 3 percent of eligible patients in the United States,” said Dr. K Hong, of Johns Hopkins University. “Patients don’t plan where and when they have a stroke. Our model of training board-certified interventional radiologists can expand access to quality, evidence-based care, and reduce the lifelong disability associated with stroke.”

Thrombectomy, the treatment that clears a clogged artery in the brain, increases the survival rates among those suffering an acute ischemic stroke, reduces the likelihood of resulting disabilities, and speeds function recovery. However, to gain these benefits, thrombectomies must be initiated and performed quickly. Many hospitals do not have providers available to perform these treatments and must transfer patients to a facility where they can get this care, losing valuable time.

The Johns Hopkins University team developed an interventional radiology stroke team consisting of four interventional radiologists who were then specially trained by a neurointerventional radiologist for six months.

We wanted to change the dynamic in stroke care by bringing in a specialist to perform the care and build the infrastructure necessary” said Dr. F Hui, “In a situation where every minute counts, we wanted to design our program to provide the training and organization necessary to bring 24/7 highly trained stroke interventionalists online as quickly as possible.”

Once the interventional radiologists were conducting the thrombectomies independently, the technical success of thrombectomy carried out by the newly trained physicians was found to be equivalent to that of established neurointerventional radiologists and neurosurgeons.