International interventional radiology societies commit to expanded stroke training

In honor of this year’s World Stroke Day on Monday, Oct. 29, international interventional radiology societies committed to provide stroke training to interventional radiologists to help expand the number of those trained in endovascular stroke therapies, as outlined in a joint statement published online on Oct. 28 in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.  

The societies involved are the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR), the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology Society of Europe (CIRSE) and the Interventional Radiology Society of Australasia (IRSA).

The American Heart Association and other international stroke organizations recommend that endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) be the standard care for patients suffering acute ischemic stroke due to blocked arteries, according to the release. However, the shortage of interventional physicians and geographic barriers has prevented such lifesaving treatment for many in need.  

Every year, approximately 100,000 of 795,000 new stroke cases reported in the U.S. are eligible for EVT treatment. To meet that volume, the U.S. would need to add 500 endovascular stroke centers to its current 231 thrombectomy-capable stroke centers and hire 2,000 more physicians, according to a Society of Interventional Radiology press release published Oct. 29.  

“The shortage of physicians and comprehensive stroke centers providing EVT has been confirmed by the stroke neurology community, who recommend that patients be treated locally rather than having long transfer delays,” according to the joint statement. “Appropriately trained interventional radiologists can evaluate stroke patients and provide emergent EVT with good outcomes...especially where neurointerventional physicians are not available.” 

In the statement, the societies noted allowing interventional radiologists to receive stroke training would help reverse stroke symptoms that require rapid and safe removal of the occluding thrombus.  

“Endovascular thrombectomy is proven to save lives and improve outcomes for patients suffering acute ischemic stroke,” according to the release. “Patients who undergo these clot-removing treatments not only survive in greater numbers, but also have fewer resulting disabilities and are able to recover functions faster than best medical therapy.”  

The SIR is currently revising its current stroke training guidelines to reinforce Joint Commission and American Heart Association requirements for physicians operating in thrombectomy-capable stroke centers and comprehensive stroke centers, according to the release.  

“SIR strongly believes interventional radiologists have a current and growing role in the care of patients with ischemic strokes,” SIR President M. Victoria Marx, MD, an interventional radiologist at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, said in a prepared statement. “We stand committed to advocate for policy changes and provide the cognitive and technical skills and resources necessary for interventional radiologists to provide high-quality care.”