J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2021 Jul 26;30(10):106016. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2021.106016. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: Transient ischemic attack (TIA) can be a warning sign of an impending stroke. The objective of our study is to assess the feasibility, safety, and cost savings of a comprehensive TIA protocol in the emergency room for low-risk TIA patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a retrospective, single-center cohort study performed at an academic comprehensive stroke center. We implemented an emergency department-based TIA protocol pathway for low-risk TIA patients (defined as ABCD2 score < 4 and without significant vessel stenosis) who were able to undergo vascular imaging and a brain MRI in the emergency room. Patients were set up with rapid outpatient follow-up in our stroke clinic and scheduled for an outpatient echocardiogram, if indicated. We compared this cohort to TIA patients admitted prior to the implementation of the TIA protocol who would have qualified. Outcomes of interest included length of stay, hospital cost, radiographic and echocardiogram findings, recurrent neurovascular events within 30 days, and final diagnosis.
RESULTS: A total of 138 patients were assessed (65 patients in the pre-pathway cohort, 73 in the expedited, post-TIA pathway implementation cohort). Average time from MRI order to MRI end was 6.4 h compared to 2.3 h in the pre- and post-pathway cohorts, respectively (p < 0.0001). The average length of stay for the pre-pathway group was 28.8 h in the pre-pathway cohort compared to 7.7 h in the post-pathway cohort (p < 0.0001). There were no differences in neuroimaging or echocardiographic findings. There were no differences in the 30 days re-presentation for stroke or TIA or mortality between the two groups. The direct cost per TIA admission was $2,944.50 compared to $1,610.50 for TIA patients triaged through the pathway at our institution.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the feasibility, safety, and cost-savings of a comprehensive, emergency department-based TIA protocol. Further study is needed to confirm overall benefit of an expedited approach to TIA patient management and guide clinical practice recommendations.