Current status of endovascular stroke treatment.

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The management of acute ischemic stroke is rapidly developing.Although acute ischemic stroke is a major cause of adult disability and death, the number of patients requiring emergency endovascular intervention remains unknown, but is a fraction of the overall stroke population. Public health initiatives endeavor to raise public awareness about acute stroke to improve triage for emergency treatment, and the medical community is working to develop stroke services at community and academic medical centers throughout the United States. There is an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education–approved pathway for training in endovascular surgical neuroradiology, the specialty designed to train physicians specifically to treat cerebrovascular diseases. Primary and comprehensive stroke center designations have been defined, yet questions remain about the best delivery model. Telemedicine is available to help community medical centers cope with the complexity of stroke triage and treatment. Should comprehensive care be provided at every community center, or should patients with complex medical needs be triaged to major stroke centers with high-level surgical,intensive care, and endovascular capabilities? Although the answers to these and other questions about stroke care delivery remain unanswered owing to the paucity of empirical data, we are convinced that stroke care regionalization is crucial for delivery of high-quality comprehensive ischemic stroke treatment. A stroke team available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week requires specialty skills in stroke neurology, endovascular surgical neuroradiology, neurosurgery, neurointensive care, anesthesiology, nursing, and technical support for optimal success. Several physician groups with divergent training backgrounds (i.e., interventional neuroradiology, neurosurgery,neurology, peripheral interventional radiology, and cardiology) lay claim to the treatment of stroke patients,particularly the endovascular or interventional methods. Few would challenge neurologists over the responsibility for emergency evaluation and triage of stroke victims for intra intravenous fibrinolysis, even though emergency physicians are most commonly the first to evaluate these patients. There are many unanswered questions about the role of imaging in defining best treatment. Perfusion imaging with CT or MRI appears to have relevance even though its role remains undefined and is the subject of ongoing research. Meanwhile, investigators are exploring new, and perhaps more specific,imaging methods with cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen and cellular acid-base imbalance. There are currently 6 ongoing trials of stroke intervention, many with proprietary technologies and private funding, competing for the same patient population as multicenter trials funded by the NIH. At the same time, much of the interventional stroke treatment currently occurs outside of trials in the community and academic settings without the collection of much-needed data. Market forces will certainly shape future stroke therapy, but it is unclear whether the current combination of private and public funding for these endeavors is the best method of development.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Medicine

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