Treatment methodologies of carotid stenosis

Bae C, et al. Comparative Review of the Treatment Methodologies of Carotid Stenosis. Int J Angiol. 2015 Sep;24(3):215-22. .

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The treatment of carotid stenosis entails three methodologies, namely, medical management, carotid angioplasty and stenting (CAS), as well as carotid endarterectomy (CEA). The North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial (NASCET) and European Carotid Surgery Trial (ECST) have shown that symptomatic carotid stenosis greater than 70% is best treated with CEA. In asymptomatic patients with carotid stenosis greater than 60%, CEA was more beneficial than treatment with aspirin alone according to the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis (ACAS) and Asymptomatic Carotid Stenosis Trial (ACST) trials. When CAS is compared with CEA, the CREST resulted in similar rates of ipsilateral stroke and death rates regardless of symptoms. However, CAS not only increased adverse effects in women, it also amplified stroke rates and death in elderly patients compared with CEA. CAS can maximize its utility in treating focal restenosis after CEA and patients with overwhelming cardiac risk or prior neck irradiation. When performing CEA, using a patch was equated to a more durable result than primary closure, whereas eversion technique is a new methodology deserving a spotlight. Comparing the three major treatment strategies of carotid stenosis has intrinsic drawbacks, as most trials are outdated and they vary in their premises, definitions, and study designs. With the newly codified best medical management including antiplatelet therapies with aspirin and clopidogrel, statin, antihypertensive agents, strict diabetes control, smoking cessation, and life style change, the current trials may demonstrate that asymptomatic carotid stenosis is best treated with best medical therapy. The ongoing trials will illuminate and reshape the treatment paradigm for symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid stenosis.


Barnett HJ, Taylor DW, Eliasziw M, et al. Benefit of carotid endarterectomy in patients with symptomatic moderate or severe stenosis. NASCET Collaborators. N Engl J Med. 1998 Nov 12;339(20):1415-25.

Results: Among patients with stenosis of 50 to 69 percent, the five-year rate of any ipsilateral stroke (failure rate) was 15.7 percent among patients treated surgically and 22.2 percent among those treated medically (P=0.045); to prevent one ipsilateral stroke during the five-year period, 15 patients would have to be treated with carotid endarterectomy. Among patients with less than 50 percent stenosis, the failure rate was not significantly lower in the group treated with endarterectomy (14.9 percent) than in the medically treated group (18.7 percent, P=0.16). Among the patients with severe stenosis who underwent endarterectomy, the 30-day rate of death or disabling ipsilateral stroke persisting at 90 days was 2.1 percent; this rate increased to only 6.7 percent at 8 years. Benefit was greatest among men, patients with recent stroke as the qualifying event, and patients with hemispheric symptoms.

Conclusions: Endarterectomy in patients with symptomatic moderate carotid stenosis of 50 to 69 percent yielded only a moderate reduction in the risk of stroke. Decisions about treatment for patients in this category must take into account recognized risk factors, and exceptional surgical skill is obligatory if carotid endarterectomy is to be performed. Patients with stenosis of less than 50 percent did not benefit from surgery. Patients with severe stenosis (> or =70 percent) had a durable benefit from endarterectomy at eight years of follow-up.


More PubMed results on management of carotid artery stenosis.

See also: The Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy vs Stenting Trial (CREST)

Created 10/01/20; updated 12/18/20.

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