The impact of increasing age on anatomic factors affecting carotid angioplasty and stenting

J Vasc Surg. 2007 May;45(5):875-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2006.12.059.


Purpose: Current evaluations of carotid artery angioplasty and stenting (CAS) have suggested equivalency compared with carotid endarterectomy (CEA). However, the incidence of stroke and death with CAS may be higher in elderly patients. We assessed the anatomic characteristics of patients undergoing CAS and compared them based on age older or younger than 80 years. The impact of age on the incidence of postoperative complications was also determined.

Methods: From February 2003 to August 2005, 135 CAS procedures were performed in 133 patients. Digital subtraction angiograms for each patient were evaluated by two independent observers blinded to patient identifiers. Anatomic characteristics that impact the performance of CAS were assessed as either favorable or unfavorable. These included aortic arch elongation, arch calcification, arch vessel origin stenosis, common and internal carotid artery tortuosity, and treated lesion stenosis, calcification, and length. Postoperative events were defined as myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. Fisher's exact test and chi(2) tests were used to determine statistical significance (P < .05).

Results: Of the 133 patients treated, 87 (65%) were men and 46 (35%) were women; and 37 (28%) were >or=80 years of age. The cohort >or=80 years old had an increased incidence of unfavorable arch elongation (P = .008), arch calcification (P = .003), common carotid or innominate artery origin stenosis (P = .006), common carotid artery tortuosity (P = .0009), internal carotid artery tortuosity (P = .019), and treated lesion stenosis (P = .007). No significant difference was found for treated lesion calcification or length. Perioperative cerebral vascular accidents occurred in four patients (3.0%, 3 with no residual deficit, 1 with residual deficit), myocardial infarction in three (2.2%), and one patient (0.8%) died secondary to a hemorrhagic stroke. The combined stroke, myocardial infarction, and death rate for the entire population was 3.7%. The rate was significantly increased in patients aged >or=80 years old (10.8%) compared with those aged <80 years old (1%, P = .012).

Conclusions: Elderly patients, defined as those aged >80 years, have a higher incidence of anatomy that increases the technical difficulty of performing CAS. This increase in unfavorable anatomy may be associated with complications during CAS. Although the small number of perioperative events does not allow for determination of a direct relationship with specific anatomic characteristics, the presence of unfavorable anatomy does warrant serious consideration during evaluation for CAS in elderly patients.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiography, Digital Subtraction
  • Angioplasty, Balloon*
  • Carotid Artery, Internal* / anatomy & histology
  • Carotid Stenosis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stents*