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J Vasc Surg. 2009 Feb;49(2):331-8, 339.e1; discussion 338-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2008.09.018.

Outcomes after carotid endarterectomy: is there a high-risk population? A National Surgical Quality Improvement Program report.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is the standard treatment of carotid stenosis for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Carotid angioplasty and stenting (CAS), however, has been proposed as alternative therapy for patients deemed at high-risk for CEA. This study examined 30-day adjudicated outcomes in a contemporary series of CEAs and assessed the validity of criteria used to define a potential high-risk patient population for CEA.


Patients undergoing isolated CEA in private sector hospitals between Jan 1, 2005, and Dec 31, 2006, were identified using the prospectively gathered National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. The primary study end points were 30-day stroke and death rates. Demographic, preoperative, and intraoperative variables were examined using multivariate models to identify variables associated with the study end points. Variables used to define systemic "high-risk" patients in the Stenting and Angioplasty with Protection in Patients at High Risk for Endarterectomy (SAPPHIRE) study (active cardiac disease, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and octogenarian status) were examined individually and in composite fashion for association with study endpoints.


Of the 3949 CEAs performed, 59% were in men, 30% were "high-risk" (19% age >80), and 43% had a previous neurologic event. The 30-day stroke rate was 1.6%, the death rate was 0.7%, and combined stroke/death rate was 2.2%. Multivariate analysis showed that intraoperative transfusion (odds ratio [OR], 5.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.71-20.66; P = .005), prior major stroke (OR, 5.34; 95% CI, 2.96-9.64; P < .0001), shorter height (surrogate for small artery size; OR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.16; P = .010), and increased anesthesia time (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.00-1.03; P = .008) were predictive of stroke. Critical limb ischemia (OR, 12.72; 95% CI, 3.49-46.40; P < .0001) and poor functional status (OR, 7.05; 95% CI, 2.95-16.82; P < .0001) were independent correlates of death. Systemic high-risk variables, either combined or individually, did not increase risk of stroke or death on multivariate analysis.


CEA is associated with favorable 30-day outcomes across a spectrum of patient comorbidity features including octogenarian status. Anatomic and technical features are the important predictors of perioperative stroke, whereas critical limb ischemia and poor functional status are important predictors of death for patients undergoing CEA. These data refute the concept that CAS is preferred for patients deemed high-risk by virtue of systemic comorbidities.

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