Hypothesis: The North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial and the European Carotid Surgery Trial demonstrated that a greater benefit from carotid endarterectomy (CEA) was seen in elderly compared with younger patients. However, no patients older than 89 years were included in either study. We hypothesized that CEA is safe and effective in patients 89 years and older.
Design and setting: This is a retrospective review of 3 neurosurgeons' CEA experience with nonagenarian patients.
Participants and interventions: Of our 1800 patients who underwent CEA, 26 were 89 years or older. Twenty-three patients had had cerebral ischemic symptoms (unilateral hemispheric symptoms in 21 and 2 dizzy spells associated with bilateral high-grade stenosis). Cerebral angiography was performed in 3 patients. Twenty-three patients underwent noninvasive imaging. Four patients had bilateral high-grade stenosis and underwent staged bilateral CEA. All procedures were performed after the induction of general anesthesia with electroencephalographic (and, more recently, transcranial Doppler) monitoring and etomidate-induced burst suppression for cerebral protection during cross-clamping.
Results: Unusual technical difficulties were frequently noted, including high bifurcations, looping rotated internal carotid arteries, and marked adherence of surrounding soft tissues. In 3 of the 30 procedures, a shunt was used. There were no perioperative cerebral ischemic or cardiac events. The mean hospital stay was 2 days. One patient had a transient vocal cord paresis. Twenty-two patients were alive and well 24 months following the procedure. Four patients died of non-stroke-related causes.
Conclusions: Carotid endarterectomy was successfully performed without perioperative cerebral or cardiac complications in our series of 26 patients 89 years and older undergoing 30 CEAs. Extrapolating from reported results from the North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial and the European Carotid Surgery Trial, we believe CEA should be considered in nonagenarian patients with high-grade symptomatic carotid stenosis who are otherwise well medically. Our recommendations are less certain in the case of asymptomatic disease.