Objective: To assess whether subtle brain damage after carotid endarterectomy could be detected using serum levels of neuron-specific enolase (NSE) or S-100β protein. Design: Prospective noninterventional study. Setting: University hospital. Participants: Twenty-two patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy and 16 patients undergoing repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm. Interventions: Serum levels of NSE and S-100β protein were measured in all patients before surgery and postoperatively at 12, 24, 36, and 48 hours. In patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy, neuropsychologic testing was performed before surgery and postoperatively at discharge from the hospital and after 3 months using a neuropsychologic test battery. Measurements and Main Results: Compared with abdominal aortic surgery patients, the preoperative serum concentration of NSE was significantly higher in carotid artery surgery patients. Postoperatively, the NSE serum level decreased significantly after uncomplicated carotid artery surgery, and the level was then similar to that in the aortic surgery patients. Before operation, the S-100β protein levels were similar in the two groups, but a significant increase was seen in aortic surgery patients postoperatively. Neuropsychologic testing after uncomplicated carotid artery surgery revealed cognitive dysfunction in 2 of 20 (10%) of the patients after 5 days and 3 of 16 (19%) of the patients after 3 months. There was no correlation between the change in cognitive function and the changes in blood levels of either NSE or S-100β protein. Conclusions: Subtle brain damage after carotid artery surgery could not be detected by measuring blood levels of NSE and S-100β protein. The NSE level was significantly higher before carotid artery surgery and decreased postoperatively to the level observed in aortic surgery. Copyright (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.
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