Management of carotid bifurcation stenosis in stroke prevention has been the subject of extensive investigations, including multiple randomized controlled trials. The proper treatment of patients with carotid bifurcation disease is of major interest to vascular surgeons and other vascular specialists. In 2011, the Society for Vascular Surgery published guidelines for the treatment of carotid artery disease. At the time, several randomized trials, comparing carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and carotid artery stenting (CAS), were reported. Since the 2011 guidelines, several studies and a few systematic reviews comparing CEA and CAS have been reported, and the role of medical management has been reemphasized. In the present publication, we have updated and expanded on the 2011 guidelines with specific emphasis on five areas: (1) is CEA recommended over maximal medical therapy for low-risk patients; (2) is CEA recommended over transfemoral CAS for low surgical risk patients with symptomatic carotid artery stenosis of >50%; (3) the timing of carotid intervention for patients presenting with acute stroke; (4) screening for carotid artery stenosis in asymptomatic patients; and (5) the optimal sequence of intervention for patients with combined carotid and coronary artery disease. A separate implementation document will address other important clinical issues in extracranial cerebrovascular disease. Recommendations are made using the GRADE (grades of recommendation assessment, development, and evaluation) approach, as was used for other Society for Vascular Surgery guidelines. The committee recommends CEA as the first-line treatment for symptomatic low-risk surgical patients with stenosis of 50% to 99% and asymptomatic patients with stenosis of 70% to 99%. The perioperative risk of stroke and death in asymptomatic patients must be <3% to ensure benefit for the patient. In patients with recent stable stroke (modified Rankin scale score, 0-2), carotid revascularization is considered appropriate for symptomatic patients with >50% stenosis and should be performed as soon as the patient is neurologically stable after 48 hours but definitely <14 days after symptom onset. In the general population, screening for clinically asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis in patients without cerebrovascular symptoms or significant risk factors for carotid artery disease is not recommended. In selected asymptomatic patients with an increased risk of carotid stenosis, we suggest screening for clinically asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis as long as the patients would potentially be fit for and willing to consider carotid intervention if significant stenosis is discovered. For patients with symptomatic carotid stenosis of 50% to 99%, who require both CEA and coronary artery bypass grafting, we suggest CEA before, or concomitant with, coronary artery bypass grafting to potentially reduce the risk of stroke and stroke/death. The sequencing of the intervention depends on the clinical presentation and institutional experience.
Copyright © 2021 Society for Vascular Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.