Objectives: Successful carotid artery stenting (CAS) involves gaining access to the common carotid artery, characterizing and crossing the lesion, deploying an anti-embolic device and stent, and retrieving the anti-embolic device. These steps are critical determinants of the complexity of the procedure. The frequency with which technical challenges are encountered during CAS is ill-defined. The purpose of this investigation was to review the incidence and types of technical challenges encountered during CAS and determine their effect on outcome.
Methods: Data were prospectively collected for 194 consecutive CAS procedures (177 patients) and separated into group 1, standard CAS technique, and group 2, procedures with technical challenges requiring modifications to the technique. Technical challenges were defined as difficult femoral arterial access (aortoiliac occlusive disease), complex aortic arch anatomy (elongated or bovine arch, deep takeoff of the innominate artery, tandem stenoses (CCA, innominate artery), difficult internal carotid artery anatomy (tortuosity, high-grade stenosis), and circumferential internal carotid artery calcification. The incidence of technical challenges, types of technical modifications required, and effect on outcomes were determined.
Results: Fifty technically challenging situations (26%) were encountered in 194 CAS procedures (group 2), which required advanced technical skills. Standard methods were used in the other 144 procedures (group 1, 74%). No significant differences in 30-day stroke and death rates were noted between the groups (group 1, 3.1%; group 2, 2.0%; P = .564).
Conclusions: Twenty-six percent of the procedures required a modification in the standard technique for successful CAS. Circumferential calcification and severe tortuosity continue to be relative contraindications to CAS. Recognition of these technical challenges and increasing facility with the methods to manage them will enable expanded use of CAS without increased morbidity and mortality.