Objective: To examine the influence of race and other potentially confounding variables on the outcome of carotid endarterectomy (CEA).
Summary: Previous studies have demonstrated that CEA is performed less frequently in black patients, although little attention has been focused on the influence of race on the outcome of surgery.
Methods: The Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission database was reviewed to identify all elective CEA procedures performed in all nonfederal acute care hospitals in the state from 1990 through 1995 to examine the influence of race and other factors on the rates of in-hospital complications, in-hospital stroke, length of stay, and total hospital charges.
Results: Carotid endarterectomy was performed in 9,219 (94%) white and 623 (6%) black patients during this period. The in-hospital stroke rate was 1.7%-3. 1% among black patients and 1.6% among white patients. Black patients had a longer length of stay and higher mean hospital charges than white patients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified black race as an independent risk factor for in-hospital stroke. Performance of CEA by a high-volume surgeon was protective for the combined occurrence of in-hospital stroke or death, and whites were more than twice as likely to undergo surgery performed by high-volume surgeons. Conversely, undergoing surgery in a low-volume hospital was associated with in-hospital stroke, and blacks were four times as likely to use low-volume hospitals.
Conclusions: Black patients who underwent elective CEA in Maryland from 1990 to 1995 had an increased incidence of in-hospital stroke, a longer hospital stay, and higher hospital charges than whites. Black race was identified as an independent risk factor for in-hospital stroke, although the reasons for this influence of race on outcome are undefined. The authors' observations also suggest the possibility of limited access to optimal surgical care among blacks, and this issue warrants further study.