Carotid endarterectomy in the UK: acceptable risks but unacceptable delays.
Dellagrammaticas D., Lewis S., Colam B., Rothwell PM., Warlow CP., Gough MJ., GALA trial collaborators None.
Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is of benefit for stroke prevention in the presence of severe carotid stenosis, provided surgical morbidity and mortality are acceptably low. To assess the current performance of CEA in the UK, an interim analysis of 30-day postoperative outcome data, blinded to anaesthetic allocation, from the first 1,001 UK patients randomised in the GALA Trial (multicentre randomised trial of general versus local anaesthesia for CEA) took place and the time from last symptomatic event to surgery was recorded. The 30-day risk of stroke was 5.3%, myocardial infarction (MI) 0.4%, death 1.7%, and stroke, MI or death 6.4%. Median delay between symptoms and surgery was 82 days. These risks are similar to those reported in the large randomised trials of CEA, but current delays to surgery are excessive and must have substantially reduced the benefit of endarterectomy.