Object. Definitive data characterizing the safety and efficacy of carotid angioplasty with stent placement (CAS) for symptomatic, occlusive carotid artery (CA) disease require further refinements and standardization of techniques as well as large prospective studies on a par with the North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial (NASCET). Despite the absence of such data, many surgeons have performed angioplasty and stent placement in patients with clinical or anatomical features known to add significant perioperative risk and capable of disqualifying the patients from participation in NASCET. There exists no cost analysis comparing high-risk endarterectomy with percutaneous angioplasty and stent insertion.
Methods. Forty-five patients (29 men and 16 women) with high-risk, symptomatic CA stenosis have been treated with CAS at the authors' institution since 1996. Indications for this procedure included symptomatic recurrent stenosis following CA endarterectomy (CEA), active coronary disease, high CA bifurcation, and severe medical comorbidities. A long-standing CEA computer database was screened for control patients with similar risk factors; 391 patients (276 men and 115 women) were identified. Actual cost data, duration of hospital stay, and relevant clinical data from the time of treatment until hospital discharge were collected in each patient. The median total cost of CAS was $10,628, whereas that for CEA was $10,148 (p = 0.495).
Conclusions. In patients with high-risk, NASCET-ineligible CA stenosis there was no overall statistically significant cost difference between CEA and CAS. Given that there may not be a cost advantage for either procedure, procedural risk, efficacy, and durability should be key factors in determining the optimal treatment strategy.