The management of extracranial carotid artery disease is primarily concerned with the prevention of acute stroke. In order to understand the current risks of carotid angiography performed by interventional cardiologists, we undertook a retrospective study to determine the neurologic complications in patients who underwent selective cerebral angiography. All patients undergoing studies that were limited to diagnostic aortic arch angiography and selective four-vessel cerebral angiography in the cardiac catheterization laboratories during the past 6 years were included in this study. Hospital records were reviewed to determine any in-hospital cerebrovascular complications following carotid angiography, ranging from transient ischemic attack to major disabling stroke or death. A total of 189 consecutive patients underwent 191 diagnostic studies limited to aortic arch and four-vessel cerebral angiography in the cardiac catheterization laboratories between 1 January 1995 and 31 December 2000. Only one (0.52%) neurological complication, a minor stroke, occurred in our study population. There were no transient ischemic attacks, major strokes, or death. We have shown that experienced interventional cardiologists can perform diagnostic aortic arch and selective carotid and vertebral angiography in a cardiac catheterization laboratory with a very low complication rate. Because the risks of angiography add to those of revascularization of the carotid artery, the most highly skilled angiographer, regardless of primary specialty, should perform these studies.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.