LOS ANGELES – In asymptomatic patients under 80 years old, carotid stenting and endarterectomy perform equally as well for severe carotid stenosis out to 5 years, according to a randomized trial published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Overall, 1,032 patients were stented, and 343 had endarterectomies in the trial, called Asymptomatic Carotid Trial I (ACT I). If stenting didn’t look safe on postrandomization angiography, patients were given the option of medical management or crossover into the surgical group. The subjects all had bifurcation carotid stenosis blocking at least 70% of the lumen. None were at high risk for surgical complications. “Asymptomatic” meant they hadn’t had a stroke, transient ischemic attack, or amaurosis fugax in the 6 months before enrollment. Stenting and endarterectomy were done by physicians and centers well experienced in the techniques (N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1515706).
At 1 year, stenting was noninferior to endarterectomy for the primary composite endpoint of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction within 30 days after the procedure or ipsilateral stroke within 1 year; the event rate was 3.8% among stent patients and 3.4% among endarterectomy patients (P = .01 for noninferiority, with a noninferiority margin of 3 percentage points).
The cumulative 5-year stroke-free survival rate was 93.1% in the stenting group and 94.7% in the endarterectomy group (P = .44).
For now, the results mean that sometimes choosing between carotid endarterectomy or stenting (or medical management) has as much to do with patient and physician preference as medical science, raising the difficult question of how to choose. In a video interview at the International Stroke Conference, investigator Dr. Lawrence Wechsler, professor of neurology/neurosurgery and chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pittsburgh, shared his thoughts on that and the other implications of the study. The work was funded by Abbott Vascular.