Purpose: The safety, effectiveness and cost issues of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) in the elderly patient have been debated due to the limited life expectancy and presumably increased rate of complications. This is despite multiple reports in the literature of excellent results in this population. To further examine this issue, we compared characteristics of three populations who underwent CEA at our institution: 53-79 year old patients (youngest group), 80-89 years old patients (middle group), and 90-98 year old patients (oldest group).
Methods: Medical and financial data were obtained by retrospective review of hospital charts and billing records. We analyzed 266 random CEAs performed in 251 patients in the youngest group, 280 CEAs performed in 247 patients in the middle group and 19 CEA in 16 patients in the oldest group performed between 2/1/90 and 2/5/01.
Results: Comparing each CEA group, there were no differences in gender (males: 56% vs. 51% vs. 53%), incidence of preoperative symptoms (43% vs. 43% vs. 42%), hypertension (68% vs. 60% vs. 42%), combined perioperative death and stroke rate (1.8% vs. 2.1% vs. 10%) or other complications (11% vs. 10% vs. 10%). Significant differences (p<0.05) were noted between the groups in incidence of diabetes (33% vs. 51% vs. 5% in each group), and heart disease (28% vs. 38% vs. 21%). Length of stay for admissions for CEA only were also similar in all three groups (2.37 days vs. 2.67 days vs. 2.36 days). A cost analysis of the earliest 230 patients in the entire series examining hospital cost per case revealed similar data for the < 80 years old and > 80 year old patients ($7,842 vs. $9,400).
Conclusions: Carotid endarterectomy can be performed in the elderly as safely and cost effectively as in the younger population.