Objectives: Proximal cerebral protection devices have been developed as an alternative to filter protection devices for reducing neurological complications during carotid artery stenting (CAS). The aimof the present studywas to evaluate the frequency of silent cerebral embolism after CAS using different cerebral embolic protection devices and the impact of silent cerebral embolism on neurocognitive function. Methods: One hundred consecutive patients who underwent CAS were enrolled. The patients were randomized to either proximal balloon occlusion or filter protection. Neurocognitive tests were performed before and six months after CAS. Cerebral embolisms were evaluated with diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI). Results: The number and volume of newischemic lesions foundwithDW-MRIwere higher in the filter protection group than in the proximal balloon occlusion group. According to our definition, nine (21%) patients in the balloon occlusion group and 16 (36%) patients in the filter protection group showed neurocognitive decline, and ten (23%) patients in the balloon occlusion group and four (9%) patients in the filter protection group showed neurocognitive improvement (NS). Regarding the group of patients with new cerebral ischemic lesions on DW-MRI, neurocognitive decline occurred in 14 (31%) of 45 patients with DW-MRI lesions and 11 (26%) of 43 patients without DW-MRI lesions (NS). Conclusion: Neurocognitive outcome after CAS is unpredictable; both neurocognitive decline and improvement can occur. In this study, the proximal balloon occlusion system significantly decreased cerebral microemboli during CAS compared to filter protection. Cerebral microembolism was not found to be associated with neurocognitive decline.
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