The goal in this retrospective study was to examine the procedural complication rate for carotid angioplasty and stent placement performed without cerebral protection devices.
Between March 1996 and December 2003, 167 carotid angioplasty and/or stent placement procedures were performed without cerebral protection devices in 152 patients (57 women and 95 men whose mean age was 64 years, range 19–92 years). Seven of these patients underwent angioplasty alone. Eighty-nine patients presented with focal neurological symptoms. Indications for surgery included atherosclerosis, radiation-associated stenosis, dissection, pseudoaneurysm, and stretched endovascular coils from aneurysm treatment. In this study, the patients' medical records were reviewed for clinical characteristics, techniques used, and resulting intraprocedural and 30-day complication rates.
The intraprocedural stroke rate was four (2.4%) of 167; this included three hemispheric strokes and one retinal embolus. All events occurred in patients who had symptomatic stenosis. The procedural transient ischemic complication rate was six (3.6%) of 167, as was the procedural nonneurological complication rate. During the 30 days post-procedure, one patient had died and three had suffered permanent ischemic events (two cerebral and one ocular). The composite 30-day postprocedural stroke and death rate was eight (5%) of 160. The rate of asymptomatic angiographically confirmed abnormalities was 0.6% (one treated vessel that was occluded but asymptomatic). The 30-day rate of nonneurological complications was 2.5%. A strong association between intraprocedural thromboembolic events (eight cases) and prior ischemic symptoms was found (p = 0.01).
Carotid angioplasty and stent placement without cerebral protection devices is safe, particularly in patients without symptomatic stenosis.