Joseph Kwan a , b , * , Madison Brown a , Paul Bentley a , b , Zoe Brown a , Lucio D'Anna a , b , Charles Hall c , Omid Halse a , Sohaa Jamil a , Harri Jenkins a , Dheeraj Kalladka a , Maneesh Patel c , Neil Rane c , Abhinav Singh c , Eleanor Taylor a , Marius Venter a , Soma Banerjee a , b
11 December 2020
We examined the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on our regional stroke thrombectomy service in the UK.
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).
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).
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.