Importance: Carotid endarterectomy and carotid artery stenting are the leading approaches to revascularization for carotid stenosis, yet contemporary data on trends in rates and outcomes are limited.
Objective: To describe US national trends in performance and outcomes of carotid endarterectomy and stenting among Medicare beneficiaries from 1999 to 2014.
Design, setting, and participants: Serial cross-sectional analysis of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 years or older from 1999 to 2014 using the Medicare Inpatient and Denominator files. Spatial mixed models adjusted for age, sex, and race were fit to calculate county-specific risk-standardized revascularization rates. Mixed models were fit to assess trends in outcomes after adjustment for demographics, comorbidities, and symptomatic status.
Exposures: Carotid endarterectomy and carotid artery stenting.
Main outcomes and measures: Revascularization rates per 100 000 beneficiary-years of fee-for-service enrollment, in-hospital mortality, 30-day stroke or death, 30-day stroke, myocardial infarction, or death, 30-day all-cause mortality, and 1-year stroke.
Results: During the study, 937 111 unique patients underwent carotid endarterectomy (mean age, 75.8 years; 43% women) and 231 077 underwent carotid artery stenting (mean age, 75.4 years; 49% women). There were 81 306 patients who underwent endarterectomy in 1999 and 36 325 in 2014; national rates per 100 000 beneficiary-years decreased from 298 in 1999-2000 to 128 in 2013-2014 (P < .001). The number of patients who underwent stenting ranged from 10 416 in 1999 to 22 865 in 2006 (an increase per 100 000 beneficiary-years from 40 in 1999-2000 to 75 in 2005-2006; P < .001); by 2014, there were 10 208 patients who underwent stenting and the rate decreased to 38 per 100 000 beneficiary-years (P < .001). Outcomes improved over time despite increases in vascular risk factors (eg, hypertension prevalence increased from 67% to 81% among patients who underwent endarterectomy and from 61% to 70% among patients who underwent stenting) and the proportion of symptomatic patients (all P < .001). There were adjusted annual decreases in 30-day ischemic stroke or death of 2.90% (95% CI, 2.63% to 3.18%) among patients who underwent endarterectomy and 1.13% (95% CI, 0.71% to 1.54%) among patients who underwent stenting; an absolute decrease from 1999 to 2014 was observed for endarterectomy (1.4%; 95% CI, 1.2% to 1.5%) but not stenting (-0.1%; 95% CI, -0.5% to 0.4%). Rates for 1-year ischemic stroke decreased after endarterectomy (absolute decrease, 3.5% [95% CI, 3.2% to 3.7%]; adjusted annual decrease, 2.17% [95% CI, 2.00% to 2.34%]) and stenting (absolute decrease, 1.6% [95% CI, 1.2% to 2.1%]; adjusted annual decrease, 1.86% [95% CI, 1.45%-2.26%]). Additional improvements were noted for in-hospital mortality, 30-day stroke, myocardial infarction, or death, and 30-day all-cause mortality as well as within demographic subgroups.
Conclusions and relevance: Among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, the performance of carotid endarterectomy declined from 1999 to 2014, whereas the performance of carotid artery stenting increased until 2006 and then declined from 2007 to 2014. Outcomes improved despite increases in vascular risk factors.