(RxWiki News) High risk patients with carotid artery disease are not eligible for traditional surgery to remove plaque clogging a key neck artery. A stent to prop the artery open now appears to be a safer option for such high risk patients.
Carotid artery stenosis, which occurs when blood vessels in the neck become clogged, is a common cause of stroke. However, many patients are ineligible for carotid endarterectomy, the standard surgical method for opening a blocked carotid artery.
"Ask your cardiologist about which carotid artery procedure would be best for you."
Dr. Jon Matsumura, head of the vascular surgery division at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and lead researcher, noted that recent improvements in devices designed specifically for stenting the carotid artery are resulting in safer procedures and better outcomes for patients undergoing the less invasive procedure.
During clinical trial PROTECT (Carotid Artery Stenting with Distal Embolic Protection with Improved System) researchers enrolled 322 patients with carotid artery stenosis at 38 U.S. centers between 2006 and 2008.
The trial was designed to examine the safety of Emboshield Pro, an embolic protection device used in combination with stenting to help enlarge the blocked artery and capture plaque that could dislodge during the process.
The initial 220 patients received a stent and Emboshield Pro, while the remainder received a stent and Emboshield Barewire, an older protection device that is no longer manufactured. Safety was measured based on clinical outcomes, including stroke, heart attack or death up to 30 days after the procedure.
Of the patients who received Emboshield Pro, three patients had a minor stroke, one had a major stroke and one had a heart attack, which marked the lowest rate of complications for the procedure among similar multi-center trials comprised of high risk patients.
"These results are consistent with the trends from other trials, where we are seeing complication rates dropping for patients being treated with stents and embolic protection devices," Dr. Matsumura said.
"This is very good news for high-risk patients suffering with carotid artery disease, who only a decade ago had limited treatment options and poor long-term outcomes."
Emboshield Pro is manufactured by Abbott Vascular, which also provided funding for the research. The study was recently published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.