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A Journal on Cardiac, Vascular and Thoracic Surgery

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The Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery 2016 February;57(1):29-35

language: English

Carotid interventions (CEA and CAS) in acute stroke patients: which procedure on which patient

Ralph C. DARLING III , Courtney WARNER, Chin C. YEH, Melissa D. SHAH, Jeffrey C. HNATH, Dhiraj M. SHAH

The Vascular Group, Albany Medical College/Albany Medical Center Hospital, Albany, NY, USA


Treatment of carotid bifurcation disease in patients presenting with acute stroke has been a controversial issue over the past four decades. Classically, patients were asked to wait four to six weeks before intervention was entertained in order for the brain to stabilize and the risks of intervention to be minimized. Unfortunately, up to 20% of patients will have a secondary event after their index event and the window of opportunity to save potentially salvageable ischemic tissue will be missed. Early reports had demonstrated poor results with intervention. However, more recently, institutions such as ours have demonstrated excellent results with early intervention in patients who present with stable mild to moderate stroke with an NIH stroke scale less than 15 and preferably less than 10, present with stroke and ipsilateral carotid artery lesion of 50% or greater. Also more recently, we have been aggressively treating patients with larger ulcerative plaques even if the stenosis approaches 50%. In our and others experiences, patients who are treated at institutions that have comprehensive stroke centers (CSCs) where they have a multidisciplinary system that consists of vascular surgeons, neuro interventionalists, stroke neurologists, specifically trained stroke nursing staff and a neuro intensive ICU have had optimal results. Early assessment, diagnosis of stroke with recognition of cause of embolization is mandatory but patient selection is extremely important; finding those patients who will benefit the most from urgent intervention. Most studies have demonstrated the benefit of carotid endarterectomy in these patients. More recent studies have demonstrated acceptable results with carotid stenting, especially in smaller lesions, those less than 1.2 centimeters. Early intervention should be avoided in most patients who are obtunded or with an NIH stroke scale greater than 15 or who do not have any “brain at risk” to salvage. These patients may be better served by being treated medically and the small group of patients that do have some improvement may benefit from interval intervention.

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