✓ The location of the carotid artery bifurcation and the distance atherosclerotic disease extends distally in the internal carotid artery (ICA) are two factors that contribute to the technical difficulty of carotid endarterectomy. When the bifurcation is high (above C-3) or the disease extends distally, standard approaches may not provide adequate exposure for dissection of plaque or for arteriotomy repair. A simple method of mandibular subluxation is described for added exposure of the distal carotid artery. The criteria for use of this method include: a carotid bifurcation at or above C-2; disease extending to within 2 cm of the skull base; and a small-caliber distal ICA lumen with the expectation of a patch graft extending close to the skull base. In dentulous patients, the mandible is subluxed by attaching an intradental wire from the ipsilateral mandibular bicuspid to an intradental wire around the contralateral maxillary bicuspid. In edentulous patients, a wire is placed around the ipsilateral mandible and secured to a wire placed through the anterior nasal spine. The entire preoperative subluxation requires 10 to 15 minutes under anesthesia and an additional 1 to 2 minutes postoperatively to remove the wires. A single skin suture and an absorbable intraoral suture were placed in some edentulous patients.
This technique has been evaluated over a 15-month reference period during which 115 carotid endarterectomies were performed. The criteria stated above were met in seven cases (six patients, 6%) and jaw subluxation was performed preoperatively. An additional 1 to 2 cm of distal exposure was obtained by using this technique and endarterectomy proceeded without complication. A slight “shift” of the standard anatomical landmarks occurred due to the movement of the mandible, which was easily recognized. There were no significant postoperative complaints related to the subluxation; specifically, no temporomandibular joint pain, no other postoperative pain, and no tooth damage were encountered. It is concluded that this relatively simple approach to mandibular subluxation provided significant added exposure to the distal ICA without notably increasing operative time. In addition, there was no morbidity and little additional care was needed when compared with other more radical approaches to high carotid artery exposure.