Known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns: a 2010 update on carotid artery disease

Surgeon. 2010 Apr;8(2):79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Feb 16.


The management of carotid artery disease never ceases to attract controversy. The last 12 months has seen publication of a number of important studies which have informed debate and 2010 holds the prospect of much more. This update offers a personal review of a number of contemporary issues including; (i) guidelines for non-invasive imaging in rapid access clinics, (ii) whether improvements in best medical therapy have rendered many of the conclusions from ACAS and ACST obsolete, (iii) is carotid disease really just a marker for increased stroke risk following cardiac surgery (rather than being an important cause), (iv) what is the current status of endarterectomy and stenting in patients with symptomatic carotid disease and (v) why we must offer expedited interventions to TIA/minor stroke patients. The available evidence suggests that while most 'known knowns' will endure, quite a few may be returning to the category of 'known unknowns' once again. Who knows what 'unknown unknowns' await us in 2010 and beyond.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / surgery*
  • Carotid Stenosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Stenosis / epidemiology
  • Carotid Stenosis / surgery
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / adverse effects
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / standards
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / epidemiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Ultrasonography