Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) has been used for the past several decades in patients with carotid occlusive disease. Large randomized controlled trials have documented that CEA is a highly effective stroke preventive among patients with carotid stenosis and recent transient ischemic attack or cerebral infarction. In asymptomatic patients with carotid stenosis, clinical trial data suggest that the degree of stroke prevention from CEA is less than among symptomatic patients. However, otherwise healthy men and women with an asymptomatic carotid stenosis of 60% or greater have a lower risk of future cerebral infarction, including disabling cerebral infarction, if treated with CEA compared with those treated with medical management alone. More recently, carotid artery stenting has been performed increasingly for patients with carotid occlusive disease. As technology has improved, procedural risks have declined and are approaching those reported for CEA. The benefits and durability of CEA compared with carotid artery stenting are still unclear and are being studied in ongoing randomized controlled trials.
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