Cerebral tomographic findings in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy for asymptomatic carotid stenosis: short-term and long-term implications.J Vasc Surg. 1999 Jun; 29(6):995-1005.JV
Preoperative cerebral imaging has been considered not to be cost-effective in carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for asymptomatic carotid stenosis. Yet, silent brain infarction (SBI) has been associated with the embolization potential of a severe carotid stenosis. Thus the presence of SBI may represent an additional indication for CEA in asymptomatic patients. We examined the predictive value of preoperatively detected silent cerebral lesions on early and late outcomes in patients undergoing CEA for asymptomatic carotid stenosis.
Preoperative cerebral tomographic (CT) scans performed on 301 asymptomatic patients undergoing 346 CEAs from 1986 to 1995 were reviewed by a single neuroradiologist blinded to patients' records. Mean follow-up was 67. 3 months (range, 24-130 months). The degree of internal carotid lumen reduction was measured bilaterally in all patients (602 carotid arteries); carotid stenosis of 60% or more was found in 399 carotid arteries.
Of the 103 (34%) CT scans positive for cerebral lesions, 58% were lacunar. No significant association was observed between the side of the cerebral lesion on CT scan and the severity of the corresponding carotid stenosis; 38 silent lesions were detected in the 203 hemispheres ipsilateral to carotid stenoses that were less than 60% versus 95 SBIs in the 399 hemispheres ipsilateral to carotid stenoses that were 60% or more (19% vs 24%; P =.2). There were no significant differences in the perioperative stroke/death rate in patients with or without cerebral CT lesions (2% vs 1%; odds ratio, 1.94; P =.6). Mortality rate during follow-up was 22% in patients with preoperative SBI and 15% in patients without SBI (P =.1). However, actuarial survival at 10 years was shorter (P =.02) in patients with SBI. Late stroke occurred in 11% of patients with preoperative SBI and in 3% of patients without preoperative SBI (P =.006). Cox regression analysis showed that both preoperative lacunar and nonlacunar infarctions were independent predictors of late stroke (hazard ratio, 3.6; P =.04; and hazard ratio, 7.1; P =.001; respectively).
In our experience, preoperative SBI did not occur more frequently in the hemisphere ipsilateral to asymptomatic severe carotid stenosis. Although our study lacks a medically treated control group, our data show that SBI is predictive of poor neurologic outcome in asymptomatic patients undergoing CEA. We conclude that CT before CEA, selectively applied, provides information on long-term neurologic prognosis and that a less aggressive attitude towards CEA in asymptomatic patients with SBI may be justified.