Background: Local anaesthesia (LA) for carotid endarterectomy (CEA) may offer advantages over general anaesthesia (GA).
Aim: Our aim was to compare outcome from CEA before and after changing our anaesthetic technique from GA to LA.
Methods: Sequential patients who underwent CEA between January 1997 and December 2001 were identified from a prospectively collected database. GA was used during the first two years of this period and LA was used exclusively over the last three years. Differences in the incidence of intraoperative shunting, perioperative stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA), cranial nerve injury, neck haematoma, perioperative death and duration of hospital stay were assessed.
Results: Three hundred and seventy one CEAs were carried out in 363 patients, 179 under GA and 192 under LA. Indications were TIAs (140), stroke with recovery (134), amaurosis fugax (85) and asymptomatic high-grade stenosis (12). Intraoperative shunting was used in 66 (37%) GA operations and 36 (18.8%) LA operations (p<0.01). There were nine strokes and four transient neurological events; 10 (5.5%) patients developed such problems with GA and three (1.6%) with LA (p<0.05). There were four deaths, three (1.7%) after GA and one (0.5%) after LA (p=NS). Duration of hospital stay was less in the LA group at a median (range) of three days (2-10) compared with 4.5 (3-14) days in the GA group (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Employing LA rather than GA for CEA has been associated with a reduction in intraoperative shunting and perioperative stroke, and the duration of hospital stay. LA appears to offer clinical and possible cost advantages over GA.