Martin Faurholdt Gude

Can Helicopters Solve the Transport Dilemma for Patients With Symptoms of Large-Vessel Occlusion Stroke in Intermediate Density Areas? A Simulation Model Based on Real Life Data

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Background: This modeling study aimed to determine if helicopters may optimize the transportation of patients with symptoms of large vessel stroke in “intermediate density” areas, such as Denmark, by bringing them directly to the comprehensive stroke center. Methods: We estimated the time for the treatment of patients requiring endovascular therapy or intravenous thrombolysis under four configurations: “drip and ship” with and without helicopter and “bypass” with and without helicopter. Time delays, stroke numbers per municipality, and helicopter dispatches for four helicopter bases from 2019 were obtained from the Danish Stroke and Helicopter Registries. Discrete event simulation (DES) was used to estimate the capacity of the helicopter fleet to meet patient transport requests, given the number of stroke codes per municipality. Results: The median onset-to-needle time at the comprehensive stroke center (CSC) for the bypass model with the helicopter was 115 min [interquartile range (IQR): 108, 124]; the median onset-to-groin time was 157 min (IQR: 150, 166). The median onset-to-needle time at the primary stroke center (PSC) by ground transport was 112 min (IQR: 101, 125) and the median onset-to-groin time when primary transport to the PSC was prioritized was 234 min (IQR: 209, 261). A linear correlation between travel time by ground and the number of patients transported by helicopter (rho = 0.69, p < 0.001) indicated that helicopters are being used to transport more remote patients. DES demonstrated that an increase in helicopter capture zone by 20 min increased the number of rejected patients by only 5%. Conclusions: Our model calculations suggest that using helicopters to transport patients with stroke directly to the CSC in intermediate density areas markedly reduce onset-to-groin time without affecting time to thrombolysis. In this setting, helicopter capacity is not challenged by increasing the capture zone.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Neurology
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2022

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