The changing face of carotid endarterectomy

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Purpose: The economic milieu and improvements in care have altered the diagnostic and therapeutic algorithm of the patient with carotid stenosis. This study analyzes the efficacy and safety of these changes. Methods: The records of patients who underwent 320 consecutive carotid endarterectomies performed by three surgeons at our institution from 1990 to 1994 were reviewed retrospectively. Use of diagnostic angiography, use of carotid duplex ultrasound, length of hospital stay, postanesthesia recovery observation, intensive care unit (ICU) observation, complications, and hospital charges were analyzed. Results: The average length of hospital stay decreased from 6.18 days to 2.00 days (p < 0.001). The day of discharge decreased from 3.10 days to 1.24 days after surgery (p ≤ 0.01). By 1993, 68% were discharged by the first day after surgery, increasing to 73% by 1994. From 1990 to 1992, average postoperative ICU observation time fluctuated between 18 and 25 hours; this time decreased to 12.2 hours by 1994. In 1993, only 12.5.% of patients were admitted to the ICU, down from 94.8% in 1990; by 1994, only 7.3% were admitted to the ICU (p ≤ 0.001). Postanesthesia recovery observation time decreased from 3.77 hours to 1.63 hours during this time (p ≤ 0.04). With regard to preoperative diagnosis, angiography was performed in 93.1% of patients in 1990; by 1994, only 32.8% underwent this procedure (p < 0.0001). Average hospital charges decreased significantly (1990, $14,378; 1994, $10,436) with these modifications in patient care (p ≤ 0.001). The complication rate reflected no significant changes over the course of the study. There were six incidences of cerebrovascular accident (6/320, 1.9%), including one death. There were four incidences of transient ischemic attack (4/320, 1.3%), with no significant differences noted from year to year. Conclusions: This study confirms the changing nature of carotid endarterectomy and documents that these changes have not adversely affected the safety of the operation.




Hirko, M. K., Morasch, M. D., Burke, K., Greisler, H. P., Littooy, F. N., & Baker, W. H. (1996). The changing face of carotid endarterectomy. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 23(4), 622–627.

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