Treatment of significant carotid artery stenosis in 1824 patients

D Mazzaccaro, S Stegher, M T Occhiuto, G Malacrida, M Caldana, D G Tealdi, G Nano
Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2015, 56 (1): 107-18

AIM: We report our experience of thirteen years of treatment of significant carotid artery stenosis.

METHODS: Data of all consecutive patients who came to our Division for a significant carotid artery stenosis from January 1999 to January 2012 were collected about patients' demographic, cardiovascular risk factors, neurological symptoms and treatment (carotid endarterectomy, carotid artery stenting or best medical therapy). Retrospective review was performed and the occurrence of death, major cerebrovascular events (major stroke, minor stroke) and myocardial infarction (MI) were recorded both at 30-day and at long-term. Analysis was performed among groups by means of JMP 5.1(®).

RESULTS: Of 1824 patients who were admitted to our Department for a significant carotid stenosis, 582 were unsuitable for surgery and underwent carotid artery stenting (CAS, Group A). Three hundred and seventy-three of them were symptomatic (64.1%). Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) was performed in 1030 patients (Group B), 741 (71.9%) of them were symptomatic. The remaining patients (Group C) were treated using best medical therapy (BMT). At 30-day CEA compared to CAS and BMT was associated with higher risk of MI (2.1% vs. 0.2%, and 0.4% respectively, P<0.05), most of all in asymptomatic patients. CEA had a higher risk of cranial nerve injuries than CAS (3.3% vs. 0%, P<0.001). Both risk of death and major neurological complications were similar among the three groups in both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. At long-term, risk of stroke after CEA was similar to that after CAS, both for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, while risk of 1-year stroke in Group C was higher than in Group A (P<0.001) and in Group B (P<0.001), for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Risk of long-term MI was similar among the three groups. Mortality at long term in symptomatic patients was higher after CAS than after CEA (P=0.001). Also long-term mortality in Group C was higher than in Group A and B (both P<0.001) but only for asymptomatic patients. A procedure that lasted for more than 60 minutes, patients who had no prior Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or Computed Tomographic Angiography (CTA) study of the aortic arch were independent risk factors for major neurological complications after CAS. Symptomatic patients were likely to have more major neurological complications in the long term if they were treated with BMT only.

CONCLUSION: In our experience, CAS offered a valid alternative for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients who were poor candidates for CEA, with results that compared favourably to those of CEA both at 30-day and at long-term. Patients who couldn't be operated on neither with CAS nor with CEA had a lower risk of MI at 30-day but a higher risk of stroke during the first year, especially if they had previously experienced neurological symptoms.

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