Most Carotid Surgery Patients Surviving 5 Years

High risk carotid stenosis patients may not live to see surgery benefit

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Following surgery to widen narrowed carotid arteries in the neck, most patients are still alive five years later. However, high-risk patients appear to have such a low survival risk that they may not be alive to see the surgery's benefit.

A new study found that more than 80 percent of patients survived five years after the procedure, but patients with several risk factors, such as smoking or heart failure, had a much lower survival rate.

"Discuss risk factors with your doctor prior to surgery."

Jessica B. Wallaert, MD, a co-author of the study and instructor of surgery from the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, said that predicting survival after carotid endarterectomy is important in the decision making for patients since high risk patients are unlikely to survive five years. The surgery helps prevent stroke in patients with blockages in the neck.

During the study, vascular surgeons from the Vascular Study Group of New England collected data from 4,294 surgical procedures performed for blocked carotid arteries at 24 medical centers between 2002 and 2011.

They determined mortality by reviewing the Social Security Death Index and used proportional hazard models to identify risk factors associated with death during the first five years after surgery.

During the 5-year period, 82 percent of patients survived. After classifying patients based on the number of risk factors, they found that low risk patients had a 93 percent survival rate, while medium risk patients had an 85 percent survival rate, and high risk patients had a 57 percent chance of survival.

Risk factors associated with a worse survival outlook included: age, diabetes, smoking history, heart failure, poor kidney function, and presence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The research was presented today at the Vascular Annual Meeting presented by the Society for Vascular Surgery.

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Review Date: 
June 5, 2012
Last Updated:
June 11, 2012