Purpose: Embolic events during carotid angioplasty are a challenging problem. This experimental study was undertaken to determine the embolic risk after each stage of carotid angioplasty procedure.
Methods: Five ex vivo carotid artery balloon angioplasties were performed on fresh carotid specimens. The carotid specimens were obtained from five patients who underwent an internal carotid artery bypass for stenosis >75%. Before the endovascular maneuvers and after each stage of the procedures, the specimens were flushed with 20 mL of saline solution. Small particulate emboli (diameter, <60 microm) were searched in all the effluents according to the Coulter technique. After this procedure, each effluent was also submitted to scanning electron microscopy.
Results: When the stenosis was crossed with the guidewire or the balloon catheter, the number and the mean diameter of embolic particles did not change with three plaques (CP1, CP2, and CP3) and were increased with two plaques (CP4 and CP5). The maximal size of particles was 220 microm (CP5). After balloon angioplasty, the number and the mean diameter of particles increased with CP1, CP2, and CP3. With CP4 and CP5, the number of particles decreased, but their size increased. The maximal size of particles was 1100 microm (CP4).
Conclusion: Carotid balloon angioplasty generates embolic particles after each stage of the procedure. Techniques of prevention should then be effective from the initial step of the angioplasty procedure, and the selection of patients for carotid angioplasty remains crucial.