Purpose of review: Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) has been shown to prevent stroke in patients with severe carotid stenosis. Carotid artery stenting (CAS) has emerged as a less invasive alternative technique. Data regarding comparative effectiveness of CAS and CEA are now available and merit review.
Recent findings: Four large randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing CAS and CEA have shown a higher rate of stroke in symptomatic patients. The largest and most recent trial reported a lower occurrence of myocardial infarction (MI) following CAS and showed overall comparability of CAS to CEA for both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Despite methodological differences, these RCTs are consistent in finding an interaction of patient age with outcomes. In younger patients, CAS appears equivalent or superior to CEA if considering the sum of death, stroke, and MI. In elderly patients, CEA appears to have a lower complication rate. For asymptomatic patients, reduction in event rates with current medical therapy may render previous trial results invalid.
Summary: CAS is an alternative to CEA in patients requiring carotid intervention. Comparison of both CAS and CEA with contemporary medical management will also be required before recommendations can be made regarding the optimal treatment of patients with asymptomatic carotid stenoses.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00004732.