The influence of anesthetic technique on perioperative complications after carotid endarterectomy

J Vasc Surg. 1994 May;19(5):834-42; discussion 842-3. doi: 10.1016/s0741-5214(94)70008-7.


Purpose: This study evaluated the influence of anesthetic techniques on perioperative complications after carotid endarterectomy.

Methods: Perioperative complications, the use of a carotid artery shunt, the duration of the operative procedure and postoperative hospital course were retrospectively compared in 584 consecutive patients undergoing 679 carotid endarterectomies with use of either general anesthesia (n = 361) or cervical block regional anesthesia (n = 318). There was no significant difference in the preoperative medical characteristics between the two anesthetic groups. Symptomatic carotid artery disease was the indication for surgery in 247 (68.4%) patients receiving general anesthetics, whereas 180 (56.6%) patients treated with a cervical block anesthetic had a symptomatic carotid artery stenosis (p = 0.02).

Results: The perioperative stroke rate and stroke-death rate for the entire series was 2.4% and 3.2%, respectively, and was not significantly different between the anesthetic groups or between patients with symptomatic or asymptomatic disease. A carotid artery shunt was used in 61 (19.2%) patients receiving a cervical block anesthetic and 152 (42.1%) patients treated with a general anesthetic (p < 0.0001). Use of cervical block anesthesia was associated with a significantly shorter operative time, fewer perioperative cardiopulmonary complications, and a shorter postoperative hospitalization when compared with general anesthesia. Multivariate risk factor analysis indicated that age greater than 75 years, operative time greater than 3 hours, and the use of a carotid artery shunt were all independent risk factors for perioperative cardiopulmonary complications. When a carotid artery shunt was not analyzed as a multivariate risk factor, then general anesthesia became a significant risk factor for perioperative cardiopulmonary complications (risk ratio 2.08; p = 0.04).

Conclusions: We conclude that cervical block anesthesia is safer and results in a more efficient use of hospital resources than general anesthesia in the treatment of patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / methods*
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / mortality
  • Anesthesia, Conduction / statistics & numerical data
  • Anesthesia, General / methods*
  • Anesthesia, General / mortality
  • Anesthesia, General / statistics & numerical data
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / methods
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / mortality
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Missouri / epidemiology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors