Long-term durability of carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic stenosis and risk factors for late postoperative stroke.
Cunningham EJ., Bond R., Mehta Z., Mayberg MR., Warlow CP., Rothwell PM., European Carotid Surgery Trialists' Collaborative Group None.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) reduces the risk of stroke ipsilateral to recently symptomatic severe carotid stenosis. Other techniques such as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty with stenting are currently being compared with CEA. Thus far, case series and several small, randomized, controlled trials of CEA versus percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (with and without stenting) have focused primarily on the 30-day procedural risks of stroke and death. However, long-term durability is also important. To determine the long-term risk of stroke after CEA and to identify risk factors, we studied patients in the European Carotid Study Trial (ECST), the largest published cohort with long-term follow-up by physicians after CEA. METHODS: Risks of ipsilateral carotid territory ischemic stroke were calculated by Kaplan-Meier analysis starting on the 30th day after CEA in 1728 patients who underwent trial surgery. Risk factors were determined by Cox regression. For comparison, we also determined the "background" risk of stroke on medical treatment in the ECST in the territory of 558 previously asymptomatic contralateral carotid arteries with <30% angiographic stenosis (ECST method) at randomization. RESULTS: The risks of disabling ipsilateral ischemic stroke and any ipsilateral ischemic stroke were constant after CEA, reaching 4.4% [95% confidence interval (CI), 3.0 to 5.8] and 9.7% (95% CI, 7.6 to 11.7), respectively, by 10 years. The equivalent ischemic stroke risks distal to contralateral <30% asymptomatic carotid stenoses were 1.9% (95% CI, 0.8 to 3.2) and 4.5% (95% CI, 1.5 to 7.4). Presentation with cerebral symptoms, diabetes, elevated systolic blood pressure, smoking, male sex, increasing age, and a lesser severity of preoperative stenosis were associated with an increased risk of late stroke after CEA, but plaque morphology and patch grafting were not. CONCLUSIONS: Although the risk of late ipsilateral ischemic stroke after CEA for symptomatic stenosis is approximately double the background risk in the territory of <30% asymptomatic stenosis, it is still only approximately 1% per year and remains low for at least 10 years after CEA. This is the standard against which alternative treatments should be judged. Several risk factors may be useful in identifying patients at particularly high risk of late postoperative stroke.