To systematically analyse prior reports of carotid endarterectomy (CEA) performed in cases of ≤50% carotid stenosis in order to understand patient tolerance and potential benefit.
A systematic review and descriptive analysis was performed in concordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. An English-language search was performed of online databases using librarian-selected search terms. Abstracts were reviewed for relevance which included mention of carotid endarterectomy and stenosis. Prospective or retrospective observational cohort studies that reported series of patients who underwent endarterectomy for minimal (≤50%) luminal stenosis with reported outcomes were included.
Six studies (which included our institutional series) with a total of 143 patients met the inclusion criteria. The weighted mean age at the time of CEA was 72.3 years; 113 (79.0%) were male. 55.8% of patients with available data had recurrent ipsilateral ischaemic events despite medical therapy. Two patients out of 129 with available perioperative data (1.6%) had perioperative MRI findings of acute ischaemic stroke, both within the hemisphere contralateral to the side of CEA. Of the 138 patients with available follow-up (mean, 36 months), none had recurrent ipsilateral ischaemic events.
Endarterectomy for symptomatic carotid disease causing ≤50% stenosis may be a potentially beneficial strategy to prevent stroke recurrence. Studies with robust methodology are needed to draw more definitive conclusions in terms of the safety and efficacy of endarterectomy for minimal stenosis with vulnerable features relative to intensive medical therapy.