Background and purpose
Indications for carotid endarterectomy have engendered considerable debate among experts and have resulted in publication of retrospective reviews, natural history studies, audits of community practice, position papers, expert opinion statements, and finally prospective randomized trials. The American Heart Association assembled a group of experts in a multidisciplinary consensus conference to develop this statement.
A conference was held July 16-18, 1993, in Park City, Utah, that included recognized experts in neurology, neurosurgery, vascular surgery, and healthcare planning. A program of critical topics was developed, and each expert presented a talk and provided the chairman with a summary statement. From these summary statements a document was developed and edited onsite to achieve consensus before final revision.
The first section of this document reviews the natural history, methods of patient evaluation, options for medical management, results of surgical management, data from position statements, and results to date of prospective randomized trials for symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with carotid artery disease. The second section divides 96 potential indications for carotid endarterectomy, based on surgical risk, into four categories: (1) Proven: This is the strongest indication for carotid endarterectomy; data are supported by results of prospective contemporary randomized trials. (2) Acceptable but not proven: a good indication for operation; supported by promising but not scientifically certain data. (3) Uncertain: Data are insufficient to define the risk/benefit ratio. (4) Proven inappropriate: Current data are adequate to show that the risk of surgery outweighs any benefit.
Indications for carotid endarterectomy in symptomatic good-risk patients with a surgeon whose surgical morbidity and mortality rate is less than 6% are as follows. (1) Proven: one or more TIAs in the past 6 months and carotid stenosis > or = 70% or mild stroke within 6 months and a carotid stenosis > or = 70%; (2) acceptable but not proven: TIAs within the past 6 months and a stenosis 50% to 69%, progressive stroke and a stenosis > or = 70%, mild or moderate stroke in the past 6 months and a stenosis 50% to 69%, or carotid endarterectomy ipsilateral to TIAs and a stenosis > or = 70% combined with required coronary artery bypass grafting; (3) uncertain: TIAs with a stenosis < 50%, mild stroke and stenosis < 50%, TIAs with a stenosis < 70% combined with coronary artery bypass grafting, or symptomatic, acute carotid thrombosis; (4) proven inappropriate: moderate stroke with stenosis < 50%, not on aspirin; single TIA, < 50% stenosis, not on aspirin; high-risk patient with multiple TIAs, not on aspirin, stenosis < 50%; high-risk patient, mild or moderate stroke, stenosis < 50%, not on aspirin; global ischemic symptoms with stenosis < 50%; acute dissection, asymptomatic on heparin. Indications for carotid endarterectomy in asymptomatic good-risk patients performed by a surgeon whose surgical morbidity and mortality rate is less than 3% are as follows. (1) Proven: none. (As this statement went to press, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke issued a clinical advisory stating that the Institute has halted the Asymptomatic Carotid Atherosclerosis Study (ACAS) because of a clear benefit in favor of surgery for patients with carotid stenosis > or = 60% as measured by diameter reduction. When the ACAS report is published, this indication will be recategorized as proven. (2) acceptable but not proven: stenosis > 75% by linear diameter; (3) uncertain; stenosis > 75% in a high-risk patient/surgeon (surgical morbidity and mortality rate > 3%), combined carotid/coronary operations, or ulcerative lesions without hemodynamically significant stenosis; (4) proven inappropriate: operations with a combined stroke morbidity and mortality > 5%.