Cognitive function is often improved or impaired after carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for patients with cerebral hemodynamic impairment. Cerebral glucose metabolism measured using positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) correlates with cognitive function in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The present study aimed to determine whether postoperative changes in cerebral glucose metabolism are associated with cognitive changes after CEA.
In patients who were scheduled to undergo CEA for ipsilateral internal carotid artery (ICA) stenosis (≥ 70% narrowing), cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) to acetazolamide were assessed preoperatively using brain perfusion single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). CBF measurement using SPECT was also performed immediately after CEA. For patients with reduced preoperative CVR to acetazolamide in the cerebral hemisphere ipsilateral to surgery, cerebral glucose metabolism was assessed using FDG-PET before surgery and 3 months after surgery and was analyzed using 3D stereotactic surface projection. Neuropsychological testing was also performed preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively.
Twenty-two patients with reduced preoperative CVR to acetazolamide successfully underwent FDG-PET studies and neuropsychological testing before and after CEA. Seven, 9, and 6 patients were defined as showing improved, unchanged, and impaired postoperative cognition, respectively, based on the neuropsychological assessments. The cortical area with increased postoperative glucose metabolism was greater in patients with improved postoperative cognition than in those with unchanged (p < 0.001) or impaired (p < 0.001) postoperative cognition. The cortical area with decreased postoperative glucose metabolism was greater in patients with impaired postoperative cognition than in those with improved (p < 0.001) or unchanged (p < 0.001) postoperative cognition. All 7 patients with improved cognition exhibited postoperative hemispheric increases in glucose metabolism, while 5 of the 6 patients with impaired cognition exhibited postoperative hemispheric decreases in glucose metabolism. Brain perfusion SPECT revealed that the latter 6 patients experienced postoperative cerebral hyperperfusion, and 2 of the 6 patients exhibited cerebral hyperperfusion syndrome. The cortical area with decreased postoperative glucose metabolism in these 2 patients was greater than that in other patients.
Postoperative changes in cerebral glucose metabolism, as measured using FDG-PET, are associated with cognitive improvement and impairment after CEA.