Background: To evaluate the influence of anesthetic technique on perioperative neurological and cardiopulmonary complication rates in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy.
Patients and methods: 186 patients with symptomatic internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis > 70% or asymptomatic ICA stenosis > 80% were prospectively randomized for either locoregional (LA) or general anesthesia (GA).
Results: Neurological complication rates were similar in both groups (GA 2% vs. LA 2%). Cardiopulmonary complication rates were not significantly different (GA 4% vs LA 1%). There were no stroke-related deaths, but one patient from the GA group died from severe postoperative pneumonia. Thus, a significant difference in combined stroke/cardiopulmonary related death between the two groups (GA 1% vs LA 0%) could not be found. However, perioperative cardiopulmonary monitoring showed that significantly more patients operated under general anesthesia had hypertensive events, with systolic blood pressure values greater than 180 mmHg on postoperative day one. There were no differences in the number of postoperatively hypotensive episodes (systolic blood pressure values < 100 mmHg) between the two groups.
Conclusions: Significant differences in the perioperative neurological and cardiopulmonary complication rates between general and locoregional anesthesia in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy could not be observed.