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Int J Angiol. 2009 Winter;18(4):173-6.

Fate of the external carotid artery following carotid interventions.

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Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery;



The external carotid artery (ECA) is an important collateral pathway for cerebral blood flow. Carotid artery stenting (CAS) typically crosses the ECA, while carotid endarterectomy (CEA) includes deliberate ECA plaque removal. The purpose of the present study was to compare the long-term patency of the ECA following CAS and CEA as determined by carotid duplex ultrasound.


Duplex ultrasounds and hospital records were reviewed for consecutive patients undergoing CAS between February 2002 and April 2008, and were compared with those undergoing CEA in the same time period. Preoperative and postoperative ECA peak systolic velocities were normalized to the common carotid artery (CCA) as ECA/CCA ratios. A significant (80% or greater) ECA stenosis was defined as an ECA/CCA ratio of 4.0. A change of ratio by more than 1 was defined as significant. Data were analyzed using Student's t test and χ(2) analysis.


A total of 86 CAS procedures in 83 patients were performed (81 men, mean age 69.9 years). Among them, 38.4% of patients had previous CEA, 9.6% of whom had contralateral internal carotid artery occlusion. Sixty-seven CAS and 65 CEA patients with complete duplex data in the same time period were included in the analyses. There was no difference in the incidence of severe ECA stenosis on preoperative ultrasound evaluations. During a mean follow-up of 34 months (range four to 78 months), three postprocedure ECA occlusions were found in the CAS group. The likelihood of severe stenosis or occlusion following CAS was 28.3%, compared with 11% following CEA (P<0.025). However, 62% of CEA patients and 57% of CAS patients had no significant change in ECA status. Reduction in the patient's degree of ECA stenosis was observed in 9.4% of CAS versus 26.6% of CEA patients. Overall, immediate postoperative ratios of both groups were slightly improved, but there was a trend of more disease progression in the CAS group during follow-up.


CAS is associated with a higher incidence of post-procedure ECA stenosis. Despite the absence of neurological symptoms, a trend toward late disease progression of ECA following CAS warrants long-term evaluation.

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