Carotid artery stenosis is a major risk factor for stroke, and treatments for this condition to decrease the risk of stroke include medical therapy, carotid endarterectomy (CEA), and, more recently, carotid angioplasty and stenting (CAS). Randomized controlled trials comparing the efficacy of CEA vs medical therapy showed a clear benefit for CEA in patients with symptomatic carotid artery stenosis of greater than 70% and a lesser benefit in patients with 50% to 69% stenosis. Treatments have evolved in the ensuing 20 years, and a new method, CAS, has emerged as a possible alternative to CEA. In early results, CAS proved feasible but did not compare favorably with CEA. Later and larger-scale studies comparing CAS to CEA failed to reach conclusions regarding a clear neurologic outcome advantage of one method over the other. This subject was of sufficient interest that 2 larger-scale randomized controlled trials comparing CAS and CEA, the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy vs Stenting Trial and the International Carotid Stenting Study, were undertaken to further explore this issue. This brief review places the new data arising from these studies in the context of prior efforts to address the problem of carotid artery stenosis and explores further opportunities for improvement and patient recommendations in light of these new findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas