A 10-year experience of infection following carotid endarterectomy with patch angioplasty

J Vasc Surg. 2011 Jun;53(6):1473-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2011.02.020. Epub 2011 Apr 22.


Objective: Although infection following carotid endarterectomy is rare, consequences of this seldom seen complication can be devastating. Polyester, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and vein patches have all been used by many institutions for patch angioplasty, each with reported cases of infection following surgery. Our institution has preferentially used PTFE for the majority of cases, and here, we report our experience with postoperative infection following endarterectomy over the last decade.

Methods: From January 2000 through July 2009, we treated infections following carotid endarterectomy in 25 patients.

Results: Of the 25 patients undergoing treatment for postoperative infection, 21 had PTFE patches placed during the initial surgery. The remaining four consisted of two polyester patches and two bovine pericardial patches. Twenty-three of the 25 initial endarterectomies were performed at our institution, and the other two were referrals. The majority of cases (56%) were due to gram-positive organisms, with only two cases being polymicrobial. The interval from the original surgery to clinical presentation ranged from 7 days to 85 months, with 20 patients (80%) presenting within 60 days of the first operation. Thirteen patients underwent incision and drainage with antibiotics, and 12 patients underwent definitive surgical treatment. Four received patch excision with vein patch angioplasty, four received patch excision with vein interposition, and four received sternocleidomastoid flaps. The 30-day stroke rate was 8%, and the freedom from recurrent infection was 100% at a mean follow-up of 32 months.

Conclusion: Infection following carotid endarterectomy occurs <1% of the time; however, the potential for morbidity is significant. Our results show that most infections following PTFE patch angioplasty occur in the early postoperative period (<60 days) and that simple drainage with antibiotics may be an adequate form of treatment in select cases.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Blood Vessel Prosthesis / adverse effects
  • Carotid Stenosis / surgery*
  • Drainage
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery
  • Surgical Wound Infection / microbiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene