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Perfusion. 2009 Jul;24(4):257-62. doi: 10.1177/0267659109347404. Epub 2009 Sep 15.

Preoperative screening and management of carotid artery disease in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

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  • 1Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Kyanous Stavros Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece.



Carotid artery stenosis (CAS) is a well-known risk factor for perioperative stroke in cardiac surgery. It is unclear whether preoperative carotid screening should be applied to all patients. Carotid intervention concomitantly with cardiac operations is also controversial. Our objective was to identify the prevalence of significant CAS and its related risk factors by applying a protocol of preoperative carotid screening to all patients undergoing cardiac surgery.


We studied 307 patients who were primarily screened preoperatively by duplex Doppler ultrasonography. Catheter carotid angiography or transcranial Doppler was performed on equivocal cases. Univariate and multivariate analyses were applied across selected parameters to identify risk factors for significant CAS (> 70%). The prevalence of CAS and perioperative stroke rates were determined.


Twenty-two patients with severe and 18 with moderate carotid stenosis were identified. Further radiological evaluation with catheter carotid angiography and transcranial Doppler confirmed the presence of significant CAS in 20 patients who underwent carotid stenting or endarterectomy before the open heart surgery. The cardiac surgeon was free to modify the surgical technique according to the preoperative assessment. No patient had major stroke perioperatively, while two minor strokes with complete neurologic recovery have been documented. The history of stroke and the presence of bruit on clinical examination were the only significant predictors of severe carotid disease.


Careful clinical examination together with detailed previous history taking can identify the majority of patients with CAS. Further data are required for the construction of a scientifically valid policy as a guideline.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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