The recent American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guideline recommended carotid artery stenting (CAS) as an alternative to carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for symptomatic patients. This and the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stenting Trial (CREST) form the basis for seeking more liberalized indications and reimbursement for CAS. For the years 2005-2007, >130,000 carotid interventions/year were performed, 88.6% of which were CEAs and 11.4% were CAS. For the same years, each CAS procedure had on average $12,000-$13,500 more expensive mean total hospital charges than each CEA. If the percentages of CAS and CEA had been equal (ie, 50% CAS and 50% CEA), this would translate into an additional $2,000,000,000 in charges for these 3 years. It seems unreasonable to approve enhanced reimbursement for CAS at this time, especially since the large incremental costs would go to support CAS procedures that are inferior in most symptomatic patients and possibly unnecessary in most asymptomatic patients.
Published by Mosby, Inc.