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Prehospital stroke scales outperform National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale in predicting large vessel occlusion in a large academic telestroke network.

INTRODUCTION: Prehospital telestroke evaluations may improve stroke triage compared to paramedic-applied large vessel occlusion scales, but ambulance-based video National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale assessments are challenging. The accuracy of telestroke-administered large vessel occlusion scales has not been investigated, so we sought to evaluate this further.

METHODS: This retrospective study included all in-hospital telestroke encounters in a large academic telestroke network from 2019 to 2020. We retrospectively calculated seven large vessel occlusion scales using the in-hospital telestroke National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (Rapid Arterial oCclusion Evaluation, Cincinnati Stroke Triage Assessment Tool, Field Assessment Stroke Triage for Emergency Destination, 3-Item Stroke Scale, Prehospital Acute Stroke Severity, Vision-Aphasia-Neglect, and Gaze-Face-Arm-Speech-Time). Diagnostic performance was assessed via sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, positive predictive value, positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, and accuracy using established scale thresholds. These results were compared to the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale at thresholds of 6, 8, and 10. The area under curve was calculated using c-statistics by treating scales as continuous variables.

RESULTS: A total of 625 patients were included; 111 (17.8%) patients had an anterior large vessel occlusion, 118 (18.9%) patients had any large vessel occlusion, and 182 (29.1%) patients had stroke mimic diagnosis. The mean age (SD) was 67.9 (15.9), 48.3% were female, and 93.4% were white. The Mean National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (SD) was 14.9 (8.4) for patients with anterior large vessel occlusion, 4.7 (5.0) for patients with non-large vessel occlusion ischemic stroke, and 4.4 (5.8) for stroke mimic ( p  < 0.001). Compared to the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, Field Assessment Stroke Triage for Emergency Destination, and Rapid Arterial oCclusion Evaluation scales demonstrated higher accuracy and area under curve for large vessel occlusion detection.

DISCUSSION: Both the Field Assessment Stroke Triage for Emergency Destination and Rapid Arterial oCclusion Evaluation scales outperformed the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale for large vessel occlusion detection in patients evaluated by in-hospital telestroke. These scales may be valid alternatives to the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale examination in this setting.

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