Microemboli, as detected by transcranial Doppler monitoring, have been shown to be a potential cause of strokes after carotid endarterectomy. We retrospectively reviewed 105 patients who underwent transcranial Doppler monitoring during 112 procedures for the treatment of 115 carotid bifurcation stenoses: 40 by percutaneous angioplasty with stenting and 75 by carotid endarterectomy. In PTAS procedures (n = 40), there was a mean of 74.0 emboli per stenosis (range 0-398, P = 0.0001) with 4 neurologic events per patient (P = 0.08). In CEA procedures (n = 76), there was a mean of 8.8. emboli per stenosis (range 0-102, P= 0.0001) with 1 neurologic event per patient (P = 0.08). The post-procedural neurological events in the percutaneous angioplasty with stenting population included two strokes (5.6%) and two transient ischemia attacks (5.6%). Microemboli for each of these cases totalled 133, 17, 29 and 47 (with one shower), respectively. One postoperative carotid endarterectomy patient was noted to have a stroke (1.4%), with 48 microemboli noted during that procedure. The mean emboli rate for percutaneous angioplasty with stenting patients with neurological events was 59.0: without complications it was 85.1. The mean emboli rate for carotid endarterectomy patients without complications was 8.3. Three percutaneous angioplasty with stenting patients had no emboli (7.5%), whereas 29 carotid endarterectomy patients had no emboli (38.7%).
Conclusion: The percutaneous angioplasty with stenting procedure is associated with more than eight times the rate of microemboli seen during carotid endarterectomy when evaluated with transcranial Doppler monitoring. Larger patient groups are needed to determine if this greater embolization rate has an associated risk of higher morbidity or mortality.