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Endarterectomy versus stenting for stroke prevention.

The European Society for Vascular Surgery (ESVS) has recently prepared updated guidelines for the management of patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic atherosclerotic carotid artery disease, with specific reference to the roles of best medical therapy, carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and carotid artery stenting (CAS). In symptomatic patients, there is a drive towards performing carotid interventions as soon as possible after onset of symptoms. This is because it is now recognised that the highest risk period for recurrent stroke is the first 7-14 days after onset of symptoms. The guidelines advise that there is a role for both CEA and CAS, but the levels of evidence are slightly lower for CAS than for CEA. This is because 30-day risks of death/stroke in the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were significantly higher than after CEA (especially in the first 7-14 days after onset of symptoms) and there are concerns that the results obtained in the RCTs may not be generalisable into routine clinical practice. In asymptomatic patients, the 2018 ESVS guidelines were the first to recommend that CEA/CAS should be targeted into a smaller cohort of patients who may be 'higher risk for stroke' on medical therapy. As with symptomatic patients, the ESVS guidelines advise that there is a potential role for both CEA and CAS, but the levels of evidence are again slightly lower for CAS than for CEA. This is because 30-day risks of death/stroke in the two largest RCTs, which used credentialed (experienced CAS practitioners), were only just within the accepted 3% risk threshold and there remain concerns that the results obtained in RCTs may not be generalisable into routine clinical practice.

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