Objective: Carotid artery angioplasty and carotid artery stenting (CAS) offer a viable alternative to carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients; however, the complication rates associated with CAS may be higher than previously documented. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of CAS in high surgical risk patients in a single neurovascular center retrospective review.
Methods: An institutional review board-approved retrospective review of the clinical variables and treatment outcomes of 101 consecutive patients (109 stents) from July 2001 to March 2007 with carotid stenosis were analyzed. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic stenoses were studied in high surgical risk patients as defined by the SAPPHIRE (Stenting and Angioplasty with Protection in Patients at High-Risk for Endarterectomy) trial. Specifically, those patients with clinically significant cardiac disease (congestive heart failure, abnormal stress test, or need for open-heart surgery), severe pulmonary disease, contralateral carotid occlusion, contralateral laryngeal nerve palsy, recurrent stenosis after carotid endarterectomy, previous radical neck surgery, or radiation therapy to the neck, and an age older than 80.
Results: Seventy-four percent of the patients were symptomatic (n = 81), and the mean stenosis in symptomatic patients was 83%. Reasons for stenting included cardiac/pulmonary/medical risk (60%), contralateral internal carotid artery occlusion (8%), recurrent stenosis after carotid endarterectomy (11%), carotid dissection (6%), age older than 80 (7%), previous radical neck surgery (7%), and previous neck radiation (1%). Stent deployment was achieved in 108 of 109 vessels (99%). Distal embolic protection devices were used in 72% of cases treated. The overall rate of in-hospital adverse events (transient ischemic attack, intracranial hemorrhage, minor stroke, major stroke, myocardial infarction, and death) was 8.3% (9 of 109). Of these events, 2 patients (1.8%) experienced a hemispheric transient ischemic attack (neurological symptoms that resolved within 24 hours), 2 others (1.8%) had transiently symptomatic acute reperfusion syndrome. The 30-day stroke/death/myocardial infarction risk was 4.6% (n = 5). Of these patients, 3 had minor strokes (2.7%) defined as a modified Rankin Scale score less than 3 at 1-year follow-up, 1 had a major stroke (0.9%) defined as a modified Rankin Scale score of 3 or more at 1-year follow-up, and 1 patient died after a periprocedural myocardial infarction (0.9%).
Conclusion: CAS can be performed with a low 30-day complication rate, even with a higher percentage of symptomatic lesions. The results support the use of CAS in high surgical risk patients with both significant symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery disease.