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Purpose: Both intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) and intra-arterial endovascular thrombectomy (ET) improve the outcome of patients with acute ischaemic stroke, with endovascular thrombectomy being an option for those patients with large vessel occlusions. We sought to understand how organisation of services affects time to treatment for both intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy. Method: A multi-objective optimisation approach was used to explore the relationship between the number of intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy centres and times to treatment. The analysis is based on 238,887 emergency stroke admissions in England over 3 years (2013-2015). Results: Providing hyper-acute care only in comprehensive stroke centres (CSC, providing both intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy, and performing >150 endovascular thrombectomy per year, maximum 40 centres) in England would lead to 15% of patients being more than 45 min away from care, and would create centres with up to 4300 stroke admissions/year. Mixing hyper-acute stroke units (providing intravenous thrombolysis only) with comprehensive stroke centres speeds time to intravenous thrombolysis and mitigates admission numbers to comprehensive stroke centres, but at the expense of increasing time to endovascular thrombectomy. With 24 comprehensive stroke centres and all remaining current acute stroke units as hyper-acute stroke units, redirecting patients directly to attend a comprehensive stroke centre by accepting a small delay (15-min maximum) in intravenous thrombolysis reduces time to endovascular thrombectomy: 25% of all patients would be redirected from hyper-acute stroke units to a comprehensive stroke centre, with an average delay in intravenous thrombolysis of 8 min, and an average improvement in time to endovascular thrombectomy of 80 min. The balance of comprehensive stroke centre:hyper-acute stroke unit admissions would change from 24:76 to 49:51. Conclusion: Planning of hyper-acute stroke services is best achieved when considering all forms of acute care and ambulance protocol together. Times to treatment need to be considered alongside manageable and sustainable admission numbers.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Stroke J

Publication Date





39 - 49


Thrombectomy, health service planning, health services research, stroke