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Outcome Prediction Models for Endovascular Treatment of Ischemic Stroke: Systematic Review and External Validation

Originally published 2022;53:825–836


Background and Purpose:

Prediction models for outcome of patients with acute ischemic stroke who will undergo endovascular treatment have been developed to improve patient management. The aim of the current study is to provide an overview of preintervention models for functional outcome after endovascular treatment and to validate these models with data from daily clinical practice.


We systematically searched within Medline, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science, to include prediction models. Models identified from the search were validated in the MR CLEAN (Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial of Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Netherlands) registry, which includes all patients treated with endovascular treatment within 6.5 hours after stroke onset in the Netherlands between March 2014 and November 2017. Predictive performance was evaluated according to discrimination (area under the curve) and calibration (slope and intercept of the calibration curve). Good functional outcome was defined as a score of 0–2 or 0–3 on the modified Rankin Scale depending on the model.


After screening 3468 publications, 19 models were included in this validation. Variables included in the models mainly addressed clinical and imaging characteristics at baseline. In the validation cohort of 3156 patients, discriminative performance ranged from 0.61 (SPAN-100 [Stroke Prognostication Using Age and NIH Stroke Scale]) to 0.80 (MR PREDICTS). Best-calibrated models were THRIVE (The Totaled Health Risks in Vascular Events; intercept −0.06 [95% CI, −0.14 to 0.02]; slope 0.84 [95% CI, 0.75–0.95]), THRIVE-c (intercept 0.08 [95% CI, −0.02 to 0.17]; slope 0.71 [95% CI, 0.65–0.77]), Stroke Checkerboard score (intercept −0.05 [95% CI, −0.13 to 0.03]; slope 0.97 [95% CI, 0.88–1.08]), and MR PREDICTS (intercept 0.43 [95% CI, 0.33–0.52]; slope 0.93 [95% CI, 0.85–1.01]).


The THRIVE-c score and MR PREDICTS both showed a good combination of discrimination and calibration and were, therefore, superior in predicting functional outcome for patients with ischemic stroke after endovascular treatment within 6.5 hours. Since models used different predictors and several models had relatively good predictive performance, the decision on which model to use in practice may also depend on simplicity of the model, data availability, and the comparability of the population and setting.

Some patients with stroke may benefit more from endovascular treatment (EVT) than others, depending on their clinical, radiological, or biological characteristics. In a demanding clinical situation with time constraints, a tool that helps predicting outcome after treatment may guide decision making and may be helpful in providing prognostic information to patient and family.

Multiple prediction models have, therefore, been developed to predict outcome of individual patients treated with EVT. Some of these models have already been externally validated and implemented in clinical care, others still require further validation.1–4 However, no single model has emerged as the optimal model for EVT patient selection, in part, because little is known about the comparative performance of existing models.

Therefore, the aim of this study is to provide a systematic review of preintervention prediction models for functional outcome for patients receiving EVT and to externally validate these models with data from patients treated in daily clinical practice.


We performed this systematic review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis guidelines (Table I and Supplementary Material I in the Supplemental Material).5

Systematic Literature Search

We conducted a systematic search for studies that reported an outcome prediction model for patients with stroke treated with EVT on May 18, 2020, in the databases Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane, and Web of Science. The search strategy contained search terms such as “Prediction,” “Thrombectomy,” “Endovascular Therapy,” and “Acute Ischemic Stroke” (Supplementary Material I in the Supplemental Material). The search was restricted to studies published in English, and conference abstracts were excluded. Articles were screened on title and abstract and subsequently assessed for eligibility based on full text by 2 independent reviewers (F. Kremers and M. Duvekot). Discrepancies between authors were discussed until consensus was reached. Data from the MR CLEAN (Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial of Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Netherlands) registry cannot be made publicly available, but all statistical analyses and syntax may be provided upon reasonable request.

Inclusion Criteria

Articles were included when the development of a prediction model or score was the main purpose of the study, or when an existing model for intravenous thrombolysis was validated on patients treated with EVT. Included models had to comply with the following: patients with a proximal arterial occlusion in the anterior cerebral circulation demonstrated by computed tomography angiography or magnetic resonance angiography; predict outcome after thrombectomy independent of device type; consist of at least 2 variables; and consider only variables that can be measured before start of EVT. Assessment of functional outcome had to be done using the modified Rankin Scale (mRS).

Quality Assessment

We evaluated the prediction models with the Prediction Model Risk of Bias Assessment Tool (PROBAST), which was developed to assess the methodological quality of a prediction model (Supplementary Material II in the Supplemental Material).6 The PROBAST questionnaire assesses the risk of bias and applicability of a prediction model in 4 domains: participants, predictors, outcome, and analysis. Two independent reviewers (F. Kremers and E. Venema) conducted the PROBAST evaluation and, in case of a disagreement, a third independent reviewer (J. Burke or D. Dippel) was consulted for adjudication.

Validation Cohort

External validation was performed with data from the MR CLEAN registry parts I and II. All consecutive patients treated with EVT in the Netherlands were included in the registry, from March 18, 2014, until November 1, 2017. In total, 3156 patients from 17 centers were included. Patients were included in the validation cohort if they were 18 years or older, were treated within 6.5 hours from onset, with a proximal arterial occlusion in the anterior cerebral circulation (internal carotid artery, internal carotid artery terminus, middle cerebral artery M1/M2) confirmed by computed tomography angiography or magnetic resonance angiography.


We analyzed prediction models as intended for clinical use. Simplified risk scores that attributed points for a variable that had been dichotomized or trichotomized were implemented as such in the validation cohort. The predicted probabilities of functional outcome after risk score calculation were compared with the observed probabilities in the validation cohort for patients receiving EVT. The corresponding author was contacted when probabilities were not available. Collateral scores were implemented for validation as graded in the validation cohort.7

Discriminative performance was measured with the area under the receiver operator curve (AUC). The discriminative ability of a prediction model indicates the ability to separate the patients with a poor functional outcome from patients with a good functional outcome. A value between 0.7 and 0.8 is generally considered as good discriminative ability, and an AUC higher than 0.8 is considered excellent.8–10 AUCs were formally compared for significance with the DeLong test.11 Calibration plots were developed to assess the level of agreement between predicted risks and observed outcome.12,13 Calibration is a useful and reliable tool for external validation of prediction models since the slope and intercept derived from calibration plot provide an overall estimate of systematic overestimation or underestimation in the validation cohort.14 The slope of a model may also be described as the coefficient of the logistic calibration analysis. Ideally, the calibration curve has a slope of 1 and an intercept of 0. In our analysis, we assessed models for the best combination of the slope closest to 1 and the intercept closest to 0.15 We selected 5 models with the best intercept and 5 models with the best slope. Models with a combination of a top-5 intercept and slope were defined as best-calibrated models. To summarize the absolute difference between the predicted and the observed probabilities, the average errors (Eavg) and maximum errors (Emax) of the prediction models were calculated. The Eavg and Emax represent the average and maximum error between the predicted probabilities and observed calibrated probabilities of functional outcome.16

If a study expressed a probability of 0 (0%) or 1 (100%) for the outcome of interest, this value was adapted to 1% or 99%, since the function in R otherwise excludes these probabilities for calibration.13

Multiple imputation by chained equations based on relevant covariates and outcome variables was implemented to account for missing values in the validation cohort. CIs were composed with bootstrapping (200 samples in 5 imputed datasets) for the AUC and calibration statistics of the model.

All analyses were performed with R Statistical Software 3.6.1 with the following packages: foreign, haven, pROC, mice, shiny, DBI, remotes, rms, devtools, gbm, BavoDC, ggplot2, and forestplot.


In total, 3468 articles were identified after the removal of duplicates. After the exclusion of 3351 articles based on title and abstract, 117 articles remained for full-text analysis. Of those, 29 articles describing 31 models were included for further evaluation (Figure 1, Table 1).17–51 Four articles used machine learning techniques and could not be included in the PROBAST quality assessment and external validation.27,33,34,37,50 Thus, 25 articles containing 27 prediction models could be assessed for PROBAST quality analysis. In total, 17 articles describing 19 models contained variables that were available in the MR CLEAN registry and could be externally validated.The included models used between 2 and 11 predictors, which are listed in Table II in the Supplemental Material.17–26,28–32,35,36,38–49,51 Most often used clinical predictors were age and stroke severity measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale or the Canadian Neurological Score. Computed tomography collateral score and Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score were the most widely used radiological variables. An overview of models and their calculations are described in Tables III and IV in the Supplemental Material.

Table 1. Overview of Prediction Models Included After Systematic Review of the Literature, in Alphabetic Order, With Variants of a Prediction Model Grouped Together

Model nameArticle, yModel typeOutcome at 90 dTime window for EVT, hNo. of predictors/candidate predictorsOutcomes/sample sizeAUC
Di Giuliano et al172019Logistic regressionmRS score ≤263/731/710.79
 DRAGON18,192012 and 2017Risk scoremRS score ≤3 at dischargeNA10/25182/1529NR
 MT-DRAGON20,212020Risk scoremRS score ≥389/11218/4310.83
Grech et al222014Linear regressionmRS score ≤283/826/55NR
 HIAT232009Risk scoremRS score ≥4 at discharge63/1564/1900.73
 HIAT2242013Risk scoremRS score ≥4 at discharge84/845/1630.75
 HIAT-MPV252018Risk scoremRS score ≤264/2766/1530.70
 mHIAT226*2019Risk scoremRS score ≥4105/5183/4820.77
Hilbert et al272019Deep learningmRS score ≤24.5NA463/15620.71
iScore28,292011 and 2013Risk scoremRS score ≤2NA13/161004/82230.72
MR PREDICTS302017Ordinal+logistic regressionmRS score ≤2611/13127/5000.79
NAC312020NomogrammRS score ≥373/30155/2380.82
NAV322013Risk scoremRS score ≤2323/964/1470.77
Nishi et al332019Machine learningmRS score ≤24NA148/3870.85
Nishi et al342020Deep learningmRS score ≤26NA101/2500.81
 PRE352015Risk scoremRS score ≤283/1199/2470.79
 mPRE26*2019Risk scoremRS score ≥4104/4183/4820.78
RANK362019Risk scoremRS score ≥37.38/24198/3450.79
Raoult et al372020CART analysismRS score ≥364/1880/1490.87
SAD382015Risk scoremRS score ≥4123/1745/1100.82
S-SMART392020Risk scoremRS score ≤26010/2214 743/22 0050.81
SMCTS40,412019Risk scoremRS score ≥363/986/150NR
Song et al422015CART analysismRS score ≤262/2445/910.79
SPAN-10043,442013, 2014Risk scoremRS score ≤2NA2/2277/624NR
SC452018Risk scoremRS score ≤262/2334/11790.83
 THRIVE462010Risk scoremRS score ≤23–87/1194/2850.71
 THRIVE-c47,482015, 2017Logistic regressionmRS score ≤2, mRS score 5–6NA5/52911/58550.70
 mTHRIVE26*2019Risk scoresmRS score ≥4108/8183/4820.77
TVSS492019Risk scoremRS score ≥367/24168/2700.82
Van Os et al502018Machine learningmRS score ≤26NA525/13830.79
Wu et al512019Logistic regressionmRS score ≥3246/NR71/1180.82

Collateral scores were derived from either CTA or DSA. Depending on the prediction model, different methods for derivation of the collateral grading system were used (poor/good; 0/1/2/3, where a higher grade stands for better collaterals). Collateral scores were implemented for validation as graded in the validation cohort.7 AUC indicates area under the curve; CART, Classification and Regression Tree; CTA, computed tomography angiography; DRAGON, the (hyper) dense middle cerebral artery sign or early infarct signs on admission CT head scan, pre-stroke modified Rankin Scale score >1, age, glucose level on admission, OTT, and NIHSS score; DSA, digital substraction angiography; EVT, endovascular treatment; HIAT, Houston Intra-Arterial Therapy; mRS, modified Rankin Scale; MT-DRAGON, MRI-DRAGON with time to groin instead of onset to IV tPA time and occlusion site; NA, not applicable; NAC, NIHSS (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale) score on admission, age and creatinine score; NAV score, NIHSS, age, volume; NR, not reported; RANK, The Risk Stratification for Endovascular Treatment in Acute Anterior Circulation Occlusive Stroke; SAD, The Stanford Age and DWI score; SC, Stroke Checkerboard; S-SMART, stroke severity, sex, stroke mechanism, age, pre-stroke mRS, and thrombolysis/thrombectomy treatment score; SMCTS, Simplified Multimodal Computed Tomography Score; SPAN, Stroke Prognostication Using Age and NIH Stroke Scale; THRIVE, The Totaled Health Risks in Vascular Events; and TVSS, Tor Vergata Stroke Score.

* mHIAT2, mTHRIVE, and mPRE are the original HIAT2, THRIVE, and PRE scores with collaterals added to the prediction model.

Figure 1.

Figure 1. Flowchart of the selected prediction models after a systematic search of the literature. mRS indicates modified Rankin Scale.

Some variables used in selected prediction models were not available in the validation cohort and could, therefore, not be assessed on predictive performance (Supplementary Material III in the Supplemental Material).

Quality Assessment

Ten articles (40%) were assessed by a second reviewer, with an interrater reliability of 87% after discussion of discrepancies.

All models had certain methodological shortcomings in their development and were considered at high risk of bias in the domain analysis (Table V in the Supplemental Material, Supplementary Material IV in the Supplemental Material). Models with the best methodological quality according to the PROBAST questionnaire were the MR PREDICTS, S-SMART, and the THRIVE-c (Supplementary Materials II and IV in the Supplemental Material, Table V and Figure I in the Supplemental Materials).

External Validation

In the validation cohort (n=3156), mean age was 70 years (±14) and median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale was 16 (interquartile range, 11–19; Table VI in the Supplemental Material). One thousand one hundred ninety-three patients (40.5%) had an mRS score of 0–2, indicating functional independence after 3 months.

The AUC ranged from 0.61 (SPAN-100 [Stroke Prognostication Using Age and NIH Stroke Scale]) to 0.80 (MR PREDICTS; Table 2, Figure 2).8–10 Multiple models showed similar performance in the upper range of discrimination. For models that predicted functional outcome with mRS cut points 0 to 2 (good) or 3 to 6 (poor), multiple models showed good to excellent discrimination, namely as the iScore (0.73 [95% CI, 0.72–0.75]), DRAGON score (0.73 [95% CI, 0.71–0.75]), the MT-DRAGON score (0.72 [95% CI, 0.70–0.74]), the S-SMART score (0.74 [95% CI, 0.72–0.75]), the THRIVE-c score (0.74 [95% CI, 0.72–0.75]), and MR PREDICTS (0.80 [95% CI, 0.78–0.81]). For models that predicted functional outcome with mRS cut points 0 to 3 (good) or 4 to 6 (poor), DRAGON (0.73 [95% CI, 0.71–0.75]), and HIAT ([Houston Intra-Arterial Therapy]; 0.71 [95% CI, 0.69–0.73]) showed best discriminative performance. Models that included patient comorbidities in their models generally had better discriminative performance than models without patient comorbidities in their models. No such trend in discriminative performance was observed for models with inclusion of radiological variables compared with models that did not include radiological variables (Figure 2). For models that predicted outcomes as mRS score of 0–2 (good) or mRS score 3–6 (poor), MR PREDICTS’ AUC was significantly different from other AUCs (P≤0.0001). The iScore, S-SMART, and THRIVE-c were also significantly different from other scores but did not differ significantly from each other (Table VII in the Supplemental Material). For models that predicted outcomes with mRS score 0–3 (good) or 4–6 (poor), DRAGON AUC was significantly higher than other models (Table VIII in the Supplemental Material). Calibration varied widely between models (Figure 3). The 5 models with the best-calibration intercept were the RANK scale (0.00 [95% CI, −0.08 to 0.09]), Stroke Checkerboard (−0.05 [95% CI, −0.13 to 0.03]), THRIVE score (−0.06 [95% CI, −0.14 to 0.02]), THRIVE-c score (0.08 [95% CI, −0.02 to 0.17]), and the mHIAT2 (−0.09 [95% CI, 0.00–0.16]). Models with the best-calibration slope were Stroke Checkerboard (0.97 [95% CI, 0.88–1.08]), MR PREDICTS (0.93 [95% CI, 0.85–1.01]), THRIVE (0.84 [95% CI, 0.75–0.95]), S-SMART (0.76 [95% CI, 0.69–0.86]), and the mHIAT2 (0.74 [95% CI, 0.65–0.83]). The best-calibrated models with a combination of a good intercept and slope were the Stroke Checkerboard, THRIVE, and the mHIAT2 (Table 2).

Table 2. Discrimination (AUC) and Calibration (Intercept and Slope) per Included Model

Prediction modelAUC (95% CI)Intercept (95% CI)Slope (95% CI)
Outcome mRS score 0–2 (good) or 3–6 (poor)
 MT-DRAGON0.72 (0.70 to 0.74)−0.35 (−0.43 to −0.26)0.60 (0.53 to 0.67)
 Grech0.64 (0.62 to 0.65)1.61 (1.50 to 1.70)0.45 (0.39 to 0.50)
 iScore0.73 (0.71 to 0.75)N/AN/A
 MR PREDICTS0.80 (0.78 to 0.81)0.43 (0.33 to 0.52)0.93 (0.85 to 1.01)
 PRE0.70 (0.68 to 0.72)−0.42 (−0.51 to −0.34)0.64 (0.58 to 0.71)
 NAC nomogram0.70 (0.68 to 0.72)−1.29 (−1.38 to −1.20)0.58 (0.52 to 0.65)
 RANK0.70 (0.69 to 0.72)0.00 (−0.08 to 0.09)0.70 (0.62 to 0.77)
 SPAN-1000.61 (0.60 to 0.63)NANA
 SC0.69 (0.68 to 0.71)−0.05 (−0.13 to 0.03)0.97 (0.88 to 1.08)
 S-SMART0.74 (0.72 to 0.75)0.29 (0.21 to 0.36)0.76 (0.69 to 0.86)
 THRIVE0.68 (0.66 to 0.70)−0.06 (−0.14 to 0.02)0.84 (0.75 to 0.95)
 THRIVE-c0.74 (0.72 to 0.76)0.08 (−0.02 to 0.17)0.71 (0.65 to 0.77)
 TVSS0.69 (0.67 to 0.71)−0.22 (−0.31 to −0.12)0.50 (0.45 to 0.57)
Outcome mRS score 0–3 (good) or 4–6 (poor)
 DRAGON0.73 (0.71 to 0.75)0.47 (0.37 to 0.58)0.44 (0.40 to 0.48)
 HIAT0.71 (0.69 to 0.73)−1.13 (−1.23 to −1.04)0.51 (0.46 to 0.56)
 HIAT20.69 (0.67 to 0.70)−1.22 (−1.31 to −1.14)0.62 (0.56 to 0.70)
 mHIAT2*0.66 (0.64 to 0.67)0.09 (0.00 to 0.16)0.74 (0.65 to 0.83)
 mPRE*0.68 (0.67 to 0.70)0.32 (0.22 to 0.40)0.62 (0.56 to 0.68)
 mTHRIVE*0.68 (0.66 to 0.69)0.16 (0.06 to 0.25)0.62 (0.55 to 0.69)

The calibration intercept indicates whether the observed risk was systematically higher or lower than predicted and should ideally be 0. A slope smaller than 1 indicates that the predictions are too extreme (ie, low predictions too low, high predictions too high). Models are reported for functional outcomes mRS score 0−2/3−6 and 0−3/4−6 separately. AUC indicates area under the curve; mRS, modified Rankin Scale; NA, not available; NR, not reported; SC, Stroke Checkerboard; and TVSS, Tor Vergata Stroke Score.

* With collateral score added to the existing model, modified scores.

Figure 2.

Figure 2. Overview of the area under the curve (AUC) ranked by discriminative performance for different Rankin Scale score cut points separately. Red: poor discrimination (AUC, 0.6–0.64), orange: poor discrimination (0.65–0.69), green: acceptable discrimination (0.70–0.79), and dark green: excellent discrimination (0.80 or higher).8–10 Per model is described how many variables were in the final model, and whether they included comorbidities and/or radiological variables in their model. mRS indicates modified Rankin Scale; SC, Stroke Checkerboard; and TVSS, Tor Vergata Stroke Score.

Figure 3.

Figure 3. Predicted vs observed proportion of good functional outcome measured by the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) for included models.A, Models that predicted outcomes with logistic regression (MR PREDICTS and THRIVE-c). B, Risk scores with a calculation of points for certain risk categories with accompanying risks of good functional outcome (%) for mRS score 0–3. C, For mRS score 0–2. For risk scores, the predicted vs observed proportions of patients with a good functional outcome were analyzed since no calibration graph could be derived because the model output is not probabilistic.

The smallest average error (Eavg) between predicted and observed probabilities was found in the Stroke Checkerboard score (1.5%). The largest Eavg was found in the model of Grech et al22 (25.7%). The median Eavg in all models was 8.2%, with a mean Eavg of 10.7%. The maximum absolute error (Emax) varied from 1.8% (Stroke Checkerboard score) to 36.8% (Grech et al22). The median Emax was 13.5%, while the mean Emax was 16.6% (Table IX in the Supplemental Material).


We conducted a systematic literature search that identified 29 articles and 19 outcome prediction models for patients receiving EVT. Some of these models showed promising results for prediction of functional outcome after EVT, such as the THRIVE-c score, the S-SMART score, and MR PREDICTS. MR PREDICTS had the highest discriminative performance of all models assessed, while THRIVE-c combined good discriminative performance with less overprediction in calibration than MR PREDICTS. Other models also showed relatively good calibration, such as the Stroke Checkerboard score, the mHIAT2 score, and the THRIVE score, but demonstrated relatively poor discriminative performance.

A majority of models showed methodological shortcomings. Several studies excluded patients with missing values, which may have led to bias in patient selection and further analysis.52 Most models were not internally validated and did not correct for overfitting, leading to systematic overestimation or underestimation. In addition, almost no models were calibrated during development or in other external validation studies or were only assessed with a Hosmer-Lemeshow goodness-of-fit test. A Hosmer-Lemeshow test is not sufficient for assessment of calibration since power of the test increases with sample size and may reject a model with only slight deviation from the observed outcome. In addition, this test does not imply the direction of the misclassification in the model. It was, however, notable that some models with poor methodological quality did show good predictive performance, despite several shortcomings in the development of the model. A positive trend in reporting both discrimination and calibration was observed in more recent studies that described the development of the MT-DRAGON score, the S-SMART score, and MR PREDICTS. Researchers should be encouraged to be alert in the development of prediction models to avoid shortcomings in methodological quality and to be able to more accurately predict functional outcome for patients who suffer from an acute ischemic stroke. A large number of new prediction models has been published, with more newly developed models appearing each year. We encourage researchers to validate and recalibrate existing models so that existing models will be more reliable and could be better implemented in daily clinical practice.

Regarding presentation of published prediction models, risk scores that assigned points to values of a variable were often described. In some articles, multiple points in the risk scores were grouped together for prediction of outcome, leading to loss of information. Twenty-two of the 27 models evaluated for their model performance were described as such simplified risk scores. Therefore, the predicted risks may have oversimplified the more complicated real-life situation. Most risk scores included in this overview were developed as simplified versions to remain simple and easy to use, posing the tradeoff between complexity and prognostic accuracy of the model versus simplicity and uncomplicated use in situations that require urgent care. For most scores based on regression, application devices are available for an easier and more precise estimation of patient outcome in real clinical practice. Online calculators exist for the MR PREDICTS, the THRIVE score, the iScore, the DRAGON score, and the PRE score. Since many models had approximately equal predictive performance, the choice of model should be based on the preference of model simplicity and data availability in the clinical setting.

Prestroke mRS has proven to be an important and robust predictor of functional outcome in patients with ischemic stroke.3,53 We confirmed in our study that models that included prestroke mRS or other factors that described patient comorbidity showed a better predictive performance than models that did not include these factors. This may indicate that patient history may play a large role in determining functional outcome for EVT patients. However, many models mostly included patients with a low pre-mRS. In our validation cohort, we included a broad range of patients with all possible pre-mRS scores; patients with an mRS score of 4 or higher were sparse. High prestroke mRS values may be difficult to model, first of all because they are infrequent, and second because they could represent temporary disability. Prestroke mRS as a strong predictor should be nuanced and should be investigated further.

We did not observe a correlation with inclusion of radiological variables; however, this could be attributable to many other factors. Increasingly, patients with broader inclusion criteria are being investigated for EVT, such as patients with a lower Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score and other occlusion sites. In our validation cohort, we did include patients with all possible Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score, however, the number of patients with a low Alberta Stroke Program Early CT Score was small. Radiological variables may play a larger role in outcome prediction for these patients.

Other Studies

The THRIVE score has been extensively validated. In earlier articles, the THRIVE score showed good predictive performance.2,4,54 However, its performance was comparable to other prediction models in this study. The THRIVE-c score was developed on a large patient cohort and has been validated for EVT patients.47,48 In our study, THRIVE-c score showed good predictive performance compared with other models. MR PREDICTS has been developed with data from the MR CLEAN trial, whereas validation of the included models has been performed with data from the MR CLEAN registry parts I and II. The patients in our validation cohort were treated in the same country and health care system as the MR CLEAN trial population that was used to develop MR PREDICTS. This correlation between the derivation cohort might explain the high predictive performance of MR PREDICTS. However, the inclusion criteria in the registry were broader than in the trial, and our cohort, therefore, consists of a patient population with more severe and more widely varying characteristics. In addition, MR PREDICTS also showed good discriminative power in other settings and is the only prediction model that predicted the ordinal mRS outcome, which illustrates a more valuable prediction.49,55 The iScore and DRAGON score were developed for patients receiving intravenous thrombolysis but showed good discrimination.19,28 The DRAGON score shows moderate calibration. Both scores have been developed on a large data set and have been internally validated during their development, demonstrating that even in patients undergoing EVT, discriminative power is higher compared with other scores developed for patients for EVT specifically.


There are several limitations that may have influenced the results in this study. Models that were included predicted different outcomes. Some models, such as the HIAT and DRAGON, had different cut points for good or poor functional outcome than other models. Therefore, we reported these models separately in our results. Models that predicted good or poor outcome with the same cut points were grouped together (such as mRS score 0–2 versus mRS score 3–6). It should, however, be emphasized that models that predict success (good outcome) and failure (poor outcome) may have different applications and goals when developed.

Many studies claim that their model can be used for treatment selection, however, most did not include patients with and without treatment in their development cohort. Only 2 models used treatment as a variable in their model (MR PREDICTS and S-SMART).30,39 Most models predict outcome after EVT but not treatment benefit. Even when the predicted outcome with treatment is moderate or poor, treatment can still be of added value to the patient, especially when the chance of a good outcome without treatment is very small. This is a major limitation of the investigated prediction models and should be taken into consideration when contemplating their use for clinical practice.

Some prediction tools that included radiological variables could not be validated. In our results, there was no clear distinction in discriminative performance between models with radiological variables and models without radiological variables. It is not yet certain whether radiological variables are of added value in predicting functional outcome. These variables have yet to be further investigated.56 All validated models included age and clinical severity (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale/Canadian Neurological Score), and therefore, no claim could be made whether models performed better when these variables were included.

Many models did not describe which generation thrombectomy device was used in their patient cohort. This may have influenced the predictive performance when older devices were used for EVT.

Studies that were not in English were excluded, which may have led missing models which would have a good predictive performance in our validation cohort.

In addition, machine learning algorithms are a new and rapidly emerging method of predicting patient outcomes.27,33,34,37,50 Unfortunately, it was not possible to reproduce these predictive models in this study. Machine learning algorithms are difficult to validate since no reproducible model is available. This leads to problems for application in clinical practice. In addition, a machine learning algorithm is difficult to recalibrate and adapt to other populations and different clinical settings. This method of prediction is, however, promising and may be further investigated in future research, but does not yet prove to be superior over logistic regression models.57

A minor limitation of our approach is that there is currently no clear definition of what range of values constitute good intercepts and slopes for the calibration. We have tried to objectify calibration measures with a selection of the five models with the best intercept and slope. We acknowledge that further methodologic research is needed.

Conclusions and Consequences for Clinical Practice

In conclusion, after a systematic search of published prediction models, we have externally validated and assessed published prediction models that estimate functional outcome (mRS) in patients with anterior circulation acute ischemic stroke eligible for EVT within 6.5 hours of onset. Many models have been developed but only few meet methodologic standards. A large number of models has been published, but not all models are equally useful for real-world implementation. The THRIVE-c and MR PREDICTS show the best combination of discrimination and calibration. Of these 2, the latter also predicts treatment benefit instead of merely outcome after treatment. Nevertheless, several other models have relatively good predictive performance as well, therefore, predictive performance should be one of several factors (eg, simplicity, data availability, and population similarity) to select the optimal model for real-world implementation.

Article Information


We are grateful to Elise Krabbendam, information specialist of the Medical Library of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for her help with the systematic literature search. For full details of the acknowledgements of the MR CLEAN (Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial of Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Netherlands) registry, see the Appendix in the Supplemental Material.

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental Material I–IV

Supplemental Figure I

Supplemental Tables I–IX

Supplemental Appendix

Nonstandard Abbreviations and Acronyms


area under the curve


endovascular treatment


Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial of Endovascular Treatment for Acute Ischemic Stroke in the Netherlands


modified Rankin Scale


Prediction Model Risk of Bias Assessment Tool


This manuscript was sent to Mayank Goyal, Guest Editor, for review by expert referees, editorial decision, and final disposition.

*A list of the MR CLEAN Registry investigators is available in the Supplemental Material.

Supplemental Material is available with this article at

For Sources of Funding and Disclosures, see page 834.

Correspondence to: Femke Kremers, MSc, Department of Neurology, Erasmus MC Stroke Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Email


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