What is telestroke?

Telestroke services are now an essential part of operations for any Comprehensive Stroke Center (CSC) like Prisma Health Greenville Memorial Hospital. In these types of situations, a stroke neurologist performs a video conference with the patient, available care partners, and treating staff at a facility where on-site stroke expertise is not available.

The telestroke encounter includes a standardized examination called the NIHSS, which provides a number that corresponds with stroke severity. Based on a review of computerized tomography (CT), the NIHSS, the history, and other factors, the neurologist can reach a quick decision to deliver acute ischemic stroke therapy such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), and to transport the patient to the CSC for specialized care if appropriate.

In addition, telestroke services enable minor stroke-like events, stroke mimics, transient ischemic attacks, and subacute strokes to be managed locally, rather than within the CSC. Thus, telestroke services enhance the efficient delivery of services both in the CSC and the outlying facility, and expedite service delivery to those in greatest need for acute stroke care.

There is excellent evidence to indicate that outcomes obtained from telestroke services are no different than the outcomes obtained at stroke centers. More patients are eligible for tPA administration who might not be without a telestroke option. This is because tPA must be given within three to five hours of symptom onset, and telestroke services enable quicker assessment of a patient’s status decision-making on treatment needs.

Here at Prisma Health-Upstate, telestroke services are offered to facilities in Newberry, Laurens, Oconee, Greenville and Spartanburg counties, and plans are underway to expand these services to Anderson County and elsewhere.

If you have questions about telestroke, please contact Shannon Sternberg, at 864-982-1544, or Shannon.Sternberg@PrismaHealth.org.

Article author John Absher, MD, is a neurologist with Neuroscience Associates

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