No benefit from carotid intervention in fatal stroke prevention for >80-year-old patients

Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg. 2012 Sep;44(3):252-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejvs.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Jul 21.


Background: Invasive management of patients ≥80 years of age with carotid stenosis may be questionable. The higher likelihood of stroke needs to be balanced with the increased perioperative risk and the reduced life expectancy of this ageing population. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical relevance of carotid stenosis revascularisation in octogenarians.

Methods: All patients ≥80 years of age who received carotid revascularisation in 2001-2010 were reviewed for perioperative and 5-year outcomes. The experience was comprehensive of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and carotid stenting (CAS) performed during the training frame when age was not a contraindication for this procedure. Mortality rates were compared to those of octogenarians of the same geographical territory according to all-cause and stroke-related mortality national statistics datasets.

Results: A total of 348 procedures performed in ≥80-year-old patients (272 males) were reviewed: 162 (46.6%) were by CAS and 169 (48.6%) were for symptomatic disease. Perioperative stroke/death rate was 5.5% and was non-significantly higher for symptomatic disease (7.1% vs. 3.9% asymptomatic; p = 0.24), after CAS (6.2% vs. 4.8% CEA; p = 0.64) and in females (6.6% vs. 5.1% males; p = 0.57). At median follow-up of 36.18 months, 95 deaths and 21 new ischaemic strokes (12 fatal) occurred with 5-year Kaplan-Meier freedom from stroke of 84.8% (78.7%, symptomatic vs. 90.3% asymptomatic; p = 0.003). According to national datasets, in 80-85-year-old resident population 5-year mortality was 29.9% (23.4% females, 40.6% males) and ischaemic stroke-related mortality was 14.9% (16.8% females, 13.0% males). Corresponding figures from treated population showed a 5-year mortality of 49.4%, higher in males (39.5% females, 52.5% males) and ischaemic stroke-related mortality of 20.2%, higher in females (40.0% females, 15.6% males). Comparing data from the study population with residents' figures, ischaemic stroke-related mortality hazard was significantly higher in the study females: odds ratio (OR) 3.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-9.17; p = 0.029 (for males: OR 0.97, 95%CI 0.89-1.10; p = 0.99).

Conclusions: Despite perioperative stroke/death risks being lower compared with CAS, the benefit of surgical carotid revascularisation in old patients remains controversial due to limited life expectancy and high fatality of stroke in this ageing population. Invasive treatment of carotid stenosis may not be warranted in most patients ≥80 years of age with carotid stenosis, especially when female and asymptomatic.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angioplasty* / adverse effects
  • Angioplasty* / instrumentation
  • Angioplasty* / mortality
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / mortality
  • Carotid Stenosis / surgery
  • Carotid Stenosis / therapy*
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / adverse effects
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Selection
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stents
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome