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October 1993

How Twin Cities Neurologists Treat Ischemic Stroke: Policies and Trends

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minn.

Arch Neurol. 1993;50(10):1098-1103. doi:10.1001/archneur.1993.00540100083023

• Objective.  —To examine community practices.

Design.  —Physician practice policies were surveyed using case vignettes in which evaluation for carotid endarterectomy or use of anticoagulation therapy was at issue. Virtually the same group was surveyed in 1988 and again in 1991, after publication of carotid endarterectomy trials in symptomatic patients.

Setting.  —Greater Metropolitan Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Participants.  —Community and academic neurologists in practice of general adult neurology.

Measurement.  —Percentage of respondents who would recommend the management option in question for each vignette.

Results.  —Ninety-eight percent favored evaluation for carotid endarterectomy in appropriately symptomatic "good risk" patients in 1988 before proof of efficacy became available. Proof increased the percentage (from 67% to 92%) favoring evaluation in older, sicker, symptomatic patients but not the percentage of those favoring evaluation of bruit patients (1988: 33%; 1991: 24%). In 1991, a lower percentage recommended warfarin therapy after noncardioembolic transient ischemic attack; this was especially apparent in the vertebrobasilar case (1988:59%; 1991: 37%). Both years, nine of 10 neurologists recommended heparin therapy for progressing stroke, while half to three-fourths used it after partial stroke or transient ischemic attack. Almost all would use anticoagulants for secondary prophylaxis after suspected cardioembolic stroke.

Conclusion.  —The results reflect a treatment-oriented empirical approach in this community and document quick clinical application of scientific evidence when it became available.

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