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Introduction: In a drip-and-ship model for endovascular thrombectomy (EVT), early identification of large vessel occlusion (LVO) and timely referral to a comprehensive center (CSC) are crucial when patients are admitted to an acute stroke center (ASC). Several artificial intelligence (AI) decision-aid tools are increasingly being used to facilitate the rapid identification of LVO. This retrospective cohort study aimed to evaluate the impact of deploying e-Stroke AI decision support software in the hyperacute stroke pathway on process metrics and patient outcomes at an ASC in the United Kingdom. Methods: Except for the deployment of e-Stroke on 01 March 2020, there were no significant changes made to the stroke pathway at the ASC. The data were obtained from a prospective stroke registry between 01 January 2019 and 31 March 2021. The outcomes were compared between the 14 months before and 12 months after the deployment of AI (pre-e-Stroke cohort vs. post-e-Stroke cohort) on 01 March 2020. Time window analyses were performed using Welch’s t-test. Cochran–Mantel–Haenszel test was used to compare changes in disability at 3 months assessed by modified Rankin Score (mRS) ordinal shift analysis, and Fisher’s exact test was used for dichotomised mRS analysis. Results: In the pre-e-Stroke cohort, 19 of 22 patients referred received EVT. In the post-e-Stroke cohort, 21 of the 25 patients referred were treated. The mean door-in-door-out (DIDO) and door-to-referral times in pre-e-Stroke vs. post-e-Stroke cohorts were 141 vs. 79 min (difference 62 min, 95% CI 96.9–26.8 min, p < 0.001) and 71 vs. 44 min (difference 27 min, 95% CI 47.4–5.4 min, p = 0.01), respectively. The adjusted odds ratio (age and NIHSS) for mRS ordinal shift analysis at 3 months was 3.14 (95% CI 0.99–10.51, p = 0.06) and the dichotomized mRS 0–2 at 3 months was 16% vs. 48% (p = 0.04) in the pre- vs. post-e-Stroke cohorts, respectively. Conclusion: In this single-center study in the United Kingdom, the DIDO time significantly decreased since the introduction of e-Stroke decision support software into an ASC hyperacute stroke pathway. The reduction in door-in to referral time indicates faster image interpretation and referral for EVT. There was an indication of an increased proportion of patients regaining independent function after EVT. However, this should be interpreted with caution given the small sample size. Larger, prospective studies and further systematic real-world evaluation are needed to demonstrate the widespread generalisability of these findings.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in Neurology

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