Background: Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty and stenting (endovascular treatment) can be used to treat carotid stenosis, but risks and benefits are uncertain. We therefore compared endovascular treatment with conventional carotid surgery.
Methods: In a multicentre clinical trial, we randomly assigned 504 patients with carotid stenosis to endovascular treatment (n=251) or carotid endarterectomy (n=253). For endovascular patients treated successfully, we used stents in 55 (26%) and balloon angioplasty alone in 158 (74%). An independent neurologist followed up patients. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Findings: The rates of major outcome events within 30 days of first treatment did not differ significantly between endovascular treatment and surgery (6.4% vs 5.9%, respectively, for disabling stroke or death; 10.0% vs 9.9% for any stroke lasting more than 7 days, or death). Cranial neuropathy was reported in 22 (8.7%) surgery patients, but not after endovascular treatment (p<0.0001). Major groin or neck haematoma occurred less often after endovascular treatment than after surgery (three [1.2%] vs 17 [6.7%], p<0.0015). At 1 year after treatment, severe (70-99%) ipsilateral carotid stenosis was more usual after endovascular treatment (25 [14%] vs seven [4%], p<0.001). However, no substantial difference in the rate of ipsilateral stroke was noted with survival analysis up to 3 years after randomisation (adjusted hazard ratio=1.04, 95% CI 0.63-1.70, p=0.9).
Interpretation: Endovascular treatment had similar major risks and effectiveness at prevention of stroke during 3 years compared with carotid surgery, but with wide CIs. Endovascular treatment had the advantage of avoiding minor complications.