Training Guidelines for Endovascular Ischemic Stroke Intervention: An International Multi-Society Consensus Document.

Lavine SD, Cockroft K, Hoh B, Bambakidis N, Khalessi AA, Woo H, Riina H, Siddiqui A, Hirsch JA, Chong W, Rice H, Wenderoth J, Mitchell P, Coulthard A, Signh TJ, Phatorous C, Khangure M, Klurfan P, terBrugge K, Iancu D, Gunnarsson T, Jansen O, Muto M, Szikora I, Pierot L, Brouwer P, Gralla J, Renowden S, Andersson T, Fiehler J, Turjman F, White P, Januel AC, Spelle L, Kulcsar Z, Chapot R, Spelle L, Biondi A, Dima S, Taschner C, Szajner M, Krajina A, Sakai N, Matsumaru Y, Yoshimura S, Ezura M, Fujinaka T, Iihara K, Ishii A, Higashi T, Hirohata M, Hyodo A, Ito Y, Kawanishi M, Kiyosue H, Kobayashi E, Kobayashi S, Kuwayama N, Matsumoto Y, Miyachi S, Murayama Y, Nagata I, Nakahara I, Nemoto S, Niimi Y, Oishi H, Satomi J, Satow T, Sugiu K, Tanaka M, Terada T, Yamagami H, Diaz O, Lylyk P, Jayaraman MV, Patsalides A, Gandhi CD, Lee SK, Abruzzo T, Albani B, Ansari SA, Arthur AS, Baxter BW, Bulsara KR, Chen M, Delgado Almandoz JE, Fraser JF, Heck DV, Hetts SW, Hussain MS, Klucznik RP, Leslie-Mawzi TM, Mack WJ, McTaggart RA, Meyers PM, Mocco J, Prestigiacomo CJ, Pride GL, Rasmussen PA, Starke RM, Sunenshine PJ, Tarr RW, Frei DF, Ribo M, Nogueira RG, Zaidat OO, Jovin T, Linfante I, Yavagal D, Liebeskind D, Novakovic R, Pongpech S, Rodesch G, Soderman M, terBrugge K, Taylor A, Krings T, Orbach D, Biondi A, Picard L, Suh DC, Tanaka M, Zhang HQ.

BACKGROUND: Ischemic stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Much of the long-term disability occurs in patients with Emergent Large Vessel Occlusion (ELVO). In fact, in these patients, occlusion of a major intracerebral artery results in a large area of brain injury often resulting in death or severe disability1. Until recently, intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) was the only proven treatment for ELVO.

However, the landscape of stroke treatment has changed with the publication of five randomized multicenter controlled clincal trials. These trials provide Class 1, Level A evidence that endovascular thrombectomy (ET) is the standard of care for patients with ELVO. In particular, thrombectomy results in significantly better clinical outcomes compared to best medical therapy in patients with acute occlusion of the intracranial internal carotid artery (ICA) and/or M1 segment of the middle cerebral artery (MCA)26. These results have led to guideline recommendations advocating for endovascular treatment in addition to t-PA for patients with ELVO. In addition, ET is now offered as first line therapy for patients that are not eligible for intravenous thrombolysis79. However, achieving the best possible clinical outcomes with endovascular stroke treatment mandates structured training and education of those physicians who are providing endovascular stroke treatment. On this regard, a recent meta-analysis of these five clinical trials showed that the vast majority of thrombectomies were performed by experienced neurointerventionalists. These include interventional neuroradiologists, endovascular neurosurgeons, and interventional neurologists who routinely perform neuroendovascular procedures10. None of the studies allowed physicians without previous experience in mechanical thrombectomy to enroll patients. The centers participating in these trials offered endovascular stroke therapy 24 hours a day (with the exception of those in the EXTEND-IA trial) with expertise in vascular neurology and neurocritical care in a comprehensive stroke center. On-site expertise in vascular neurology and neurocritical care is paramount to achieving good clinical outcomes.

Geographical limitations to rapid access to acute stroke centers providing mechanical thrombectomy have led some to suggest physicians without prior experience or formal neuroendovascular training should consider providing coverage for these procedures. A multidisciplinary British Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party put forth a document outlining the safe delivery of mechanical thrombectomy, which highlights that operators should not normally carry out procedures with which they are unfamiliar and that they should recognize ad-hoc arrangements are not in the best interest of patients11.

It is also important to recognize that modern endovascular stroke therapy focuses on direct clot removal with mechanical devices, as compared with previous paradigms where intra-arterial thrombolytic infusion was an acceptable treatment option for large vessel occlusions12. The technical skills needed to safely deliver devices into the intracranial circulation are significantly more involved than simply placing a catheter for medication infusion. Catheter skills from other circulations do not replace the need for formal training in safe intracranial microcatheter navigation and device placement.

Acute ischemic stroke is a complex disease and successful endovascular treatment is based on the comprehensive ability to rapidly integrate multiple pieces of information, including: the patient’s history, clinical examination, neuroradiological studies, and to subsequently formulate a treatment plan. Both patient selection and procedural expertise are critical to achieve a good clinical outcome. Hence, there is a clear rationale for formal training in both clinical neuroscience and interventional neuroradiology.

The purpose of this document is to define what constitutes adequate training for physicians who can provide endovascular treatment for acute ischemic stroke patients. These training guidelines are modeled after prior standards of training documents such as the training, competency and credentialing standards for diagnostic cerebral angiography, carotid stenting and cerebrovascular intervention13 and the performance and training standards for endovascular ischemic stroke treatment14, written and endorsed by multispecialty groups. In addition, the importance of organ specific training, rigorous quality improvement benchmarks, and minimum volume requirements needed to maintain high quality care has been extensively described for acute myocardial infarction, an analogous time sensitive disease15.

This document represents the cumulative work of the societies listed below, and represents an international consensus on adequate training to safely and effectively perform these procedures:

American Academy of Neurological Surgeons/ Congress of Neurological Surgeons (AANS/CNS)

American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR)

Asian Australasian Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology (AAFITN)

Australian and New Zealand Society of Neuroradiology – Conjoint Committee for Recognition of Training in Interventional Neuroradiology (CCINR) representing the RANZCR (ANZSNR), ANZAN and NSA

Canadian Interventional Neuro Group (CING)

European Society of Neuroradiology (ESNR)

European Society of Minimally Invasive Neurologic Therapy (ESMINT)

Japanese Society for Neuroendovascular Therapy (JSNET)

Sociedad Ibero Latino Americana de Neuroradiologica (SILAN)

Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS)

Society of Vascular and Interventional Neurology (SVIN)

World Federation of Interventional and Therapeutic Neuroradiology (WFITN).

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