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      Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on a Regional Stroke Thrombectomy Service in the United Kingdom

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          Abstract

          Introduction

          We examined the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on our regional stroke thrombectomy service in the UK.

          Methods

          This was a single-center health service evaluation. We began testing for COVID-19 on 3 March and introduced a modified “COVID Stroke Thrombectomy Pathway” on 18 March. We analyzed the clinical, procedural and outcome data for 61 consecutive stroke thrombectomy patients between 1 January and 30 April. We compared the data for January and February (“pre-COVID,” n = 33) versus March and April (“during COVID,” n = 28).

          Results

          Patient demographics were similar between the 2 groups (mean age 71 ± 12.8 years, 39% female). During the COVID-19 pandemic, (a) total stroke admissions fell by 17% but the thrombectomy rate was maintained at 20% of ischemic strokes; (b) successful recanalization rate was maintained at 81% (c) early neurological outcomes (neurological improvement following thrombectomy and inpatient mortality) were not significantly different; (d) use of general anesthesia fell significantly from 85 to 32% as intended; and (e) time intervals from onset to arrival, groin puncture, and recanalization were not significantly different, whereas internal delays for external referrals significantly improved for door-to-groin puncture (48 [interquartile range (IQR) 39–57] vs. 33 [IQR 27–44] minutes, p = 0.013) and door-to-recanalization (82.5 [IQR 61–110] vs. 60 [IQR 55–70] minutes, p = 0.018).

          Conclusion

          The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the stroke admission numbers but not stroke thrombectomy rate, successful recanalization rate, or early neurological outcome. Internal delays actually improved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further studies should examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on longer term outcome.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China

          Abstract Background Since December 2019, when coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) emerged in Wuhan city and rapidly spread throughout China, data have been needed on the clinical characteristics of the affected patients. Methods We extracted data regarding 1099 patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 from 552 hospitals in 30 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in mainland China through January 29, 2020. The primary composite end point was admission to an intensive care unit (ICU), the use of mechanical ventilation, or death. Results The median age of the patients was 47 years; 41.9% of the patients were female. The primary composite end point occurred in 67 patients (6.1%), including 5.0% who were admitted to the ICU, 2.3% who underwent invasive mechanical ventilation, and 1.4% who died. Only 1.9% of the patients had a history of direct contact with wildlife. Among nonresidents of Wuhan, 72.3% had contact with residents of Wuhan, including 31.3% who had visited the city. The most common symptoms were fever (43.8% on admission and 88.7% during hospitalization) and cough (67.8%). Diarrhea was uncommon (3.8%). The median incubation period was 4 days (interquartile range, 2 to 7). On admission, ground-glass opacity was the most common radiologic finding on chest computed tomography (CT) (56.4%). No radiographic or CT abnormality was found in 157 of 877 patients (17.9%) with nonsevere disease and in 5 of 173 patients (2.9%) with severe disease. Lymphocytopenia was present in 83.2% of the patients on admission. Conclusions During the first 2 months of the current outbreak, Covid-19 spread rapidly throughout China and caused varying degrees of illness. Patients often presented without fever, and many did not have abnormal radiologic findings. (Funded by the National Health Commission of China and others.)
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            Neurologic Manifestations of Hospitalized Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wuhan, China

            The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China, is serious and has the potential to become an epidemic worldwide. Several studies have described typical clinical manifestations including fever, cough, diarrhea, and fatigue. However, to our knowledge, it has not been reported that patients with COVID-19 had any neurologic manifestations.
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              Large-Vessel Stroke as a Presenting Feature of Covid-19 in the Young

              To rapidly communicate information on the global clinical effort against Covid-19, the Journal has initiated a series of case reports that offer important teaching points or novel findings. The case reports should be viewed as observations rather than as recommendations for evaluation or treatment. In the interest of timeliness, these reports are evaluated by in-house editors, with peer review reserved for key points as needed. We report five cases of large-vessel stroke in patients younger than 50 years of age who presented to our health system in New York City. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was diagnosed in all five patients. Cough, headache, and chills lasting 1 week developed in a previously healthy 33-year-old woman (Patient 1) (Table 1). She then had progressive dysarthria with both numbness and weakness in the left arm and left leg over a period of 28 hours. She delayed seeking emergency care because of fear of Covid-19. When she presented to the hospital, the score on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) was 19 (scores range from 0 to 42, with higher numbers indicating greater stroke severity), and computed tomography (CT) and CT angiography showed a partial infarction of the right middle cerebral artery with a partially occlusive thrombus in the right carotid artery at the cervical bifurcation. Patchy ground-glass opacities in bilateral lung apices were seen on CT angiography, and testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 was positive. Antiplatelet therapy was initiated; it was subsequently switched to anticoagulation therapy. Stroke workup with echocardiography and magnetic resonance imaging of the head and neck did not reveal the source of the thrombus. Repeat CT angiography on hospital day 10 showed complete resolution of the thrombus, and the patient was discharged to a rehabilitation facility. Over a 2-week period from March 23 to April 7, 2020, a total of five patients (including the aforementioned patient) who were younger than 50 years of age presented with new-onset symptoms of large-vessel ischemic stroke. All five patients tested positive for Covid-19. By comparison, every 2 weeks over the previous 12 months, our service has treated, on average, 0.73 patients younger than 50 years of age with large-vessel stroke. On admission of the five patients, the mean NIHSS score was 17, consistent with severe large-vessel stroke. One patient had a history of stroke. Other pertinent clinical characteristics are summarized in Table 1. A retrospective study of data from the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, showed that the incidence of stroke among hospitalized patients with Covid-19 was approximately 5%; the youngest patient in that series was 55 years of age. 1 Moreover, large-vessel stroke was reported in association with the 2004 SARS-CoV-1 outbreak in Singapore. 2 Coagulopathy and vascular endothelial dysfunction have been proposed as complications of Covid-19. 3 The association between large-vessel stroke and Covid-19 in young patients requires further investigation. Social distancing, isolation, and reluctance to present to the hospital may contribute to poor outcomes. Two patients in our series delayed calling an ambulance because they were concerned about going to a hospital during the pandemic.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Cerebrovasc Dis
                Cerebrovasc Dis
                CED
                Cerebrovascular Diseases (Basel, Switzerland)
                S. Karger AG (Allschwilerstrasse 10, P.O. Box · Postfach · Case postale, CH–4009, Basel, Switzerland · Schweiz · Suisse, Phone: +41 61 306 11 11, Fax: +41 61 306 12 34, karger@karger.com )
                1015-9770
                1421-9786
                11 December 2020
                : 1-7
                Affiliations
                aDepartment of Stroke Medicine, Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust, London, United Kingdom
                bDepartment of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom
                cImaging Department, Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust, London, United Kingdom
                Author notes
                *Joseph Kwan, Department of Stroke Medicine, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF (UK), joseph.kwan@nhs.net, or, Kyriakos Lobotesis, Imaging Department, Imperial College London NHS Healthcare Trust, Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8RF (UK), k.lobotesis@ 123456nhs.net
                Article
                ced-0001
                10.1159/000512603
                7801959
                33311017
                Copyright © 2020 by S. Karger AG, Basel

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Page count
                Tables: 2, References: 21, Pages: 7
                Categories
                Clinical Research in Stroke

                Neurology

                health service, pandemic, coronavirus, coronavirus disease 2019, thrombectomy, stroke

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