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Minerva Cardioangiologica 1999 May;47(5):157-66


language: Italian

Carotid endarterectomy for asymptomatic stenosis. Personal experience, problems and perspectives

Lucertini G., Viacava A., Finocchi C., Grana A., Belardi P.


Background. Some trials have demonstrated effectiveness of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for preventing stroke in patients with severe symptomatic carotid stenosis. Although some researches, indication to surgery for asymptomatic carotid stenosis is debated up today. Based on personal experience and literature, the main problems of CEA for asymptomatic stenosis are discussed.
Methods. Design: Retrospective study. Setting: Section of Vascular Surgery, University Depart-ment. Patients: CEA was performed in a consecutive series of 63 cases with asymptomatic stenosis (59 patients, 40 males and 19 females, ages ranging from 46 to 80 years, mean 67.9). Interventions: CEA was performed under general anesthesia, with primary closure of arteriotomy in 37 cases and patch angioplasty using PTFE in 24, using eversion technique in 2 cases. Pruitt-Inahara shunt was used in 10/63 cases (15.9%), according to the mean velocity of the middle cerebral artery at carotid clamping / mean velocity of the middle cerebral artery pre-clamping ratio x 100 equal to or lesser than 15%, evaluated with transcranial Doppler, or stump pressure lesser than 50 mmHg, when transcranial Doppler examination was not possible. Measures: Operative mortality and postoperative morbidity.
Results. Operative mortality plus postoperative stroke were 1.6% (1/63). Operative mortality was precisely 0.0%. Postoperative complications were two: one was a neurologic deficit (monoparesis of the arm) and the other was myocardial ischemia.
Conclusions. Four main problems have been shown in CEA for asymptomatic stenosis: 1. Identification of asymptomatic stenosis: 2. Assessment of risk for stroke: 3. Role of CEA: 4. Questions about surgical treatment. For the first problem, it is important to consider possible indicators for carotid stenosis (contralateral carotid stenosis, coronary artery disease, aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease, etc.). With regard to the second problem, it is important to know the natural history of the carotid stenosis, which shows a stroke rate of 1-2% per year. Regarding the third problem, the role of CEA is conditioned by: trials, patient conditions, lesion characteristics and ability of the surgeon. Further studies should identify some groups of patients (with severe carotid stenosis, dyshomogeneous plaque, progression of plaque, etc.), who can profit from CEA. Finally (fourth problem), CEA for asymptomatic carotid stenosis carries all common problems of carotid surgery (preoperative assessment, evaluation of cerebral ischemia due to carotid clamping, shunt, closure of arteriotomy, etc.). Some of these problems can receive ultimate solutions from some studies in next years.

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