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Symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid stenosis: just when we thought we had all the answers

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The management of symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid stenosis has been a hotly debated topic for decades. The publication of four randomized controlled trials of carotid endarterectomy has clarified many of the issues. Patients with symptomatic carotid stenosis >70% benefit most with an absolute risk reduction of 17% over 2 years with numbers needed to treat of 3–6, whereas in patients with asymptomatic carotid stenosis >60%, the absolute risk reduction is 1% per annum (numbers needed to treat = 14–17). There is doubt about the benefit in women >70 years of age with asymptomatic stenosis. Carotid angioplasty and stenting is in its infancy and may one day supplant carotid endarterectomy as the treatment of choice; however, currently indications for this procedure include participation in randomized controlled trials, surgically inaccessible stenosis, in patients with combined symptomatic carotid and symptomatic coronary artery disease or in patients with severe co-morbidities that preclude formal carotid endarterectomy.

Keywords: asymptomatic; carotid endarterectomy; carotid stenosis; carotid stenting; symptomatic

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, Austin Hospital 2: Department of Neurology, Royal Melbourne Hospital 3: Interventional Neuroradiology Unit, Monash Medical Centre 4: Department of Vascular Surgery, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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