Background and purpose: Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting (CAS) has emerged as an alternative to Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) in treatment of carotid stenotic disease. With increasing life expectancy clinicians are more often confronted with patients of higher age. Octogenarians were often excluded from randomized trials comparing CAS to CEA because they were considered high-risk for revascularization. Conflicting results on the peri-procedural outcome of carotid revascularization in these patients have been reported. In order to objectively evaluate whether age above 80 years should be an upper limit for indicating carotid revascularization we systematically reviewed the currently available literature.
Methods: Literature was systematically reviewed between January 2000 and June 2010 using Pubmed and Embase, to identify all relevant studies concerning CAS and CEA in octogenarians. Inclusion criteria were 1) reporting outcome on either CEA or CAS; and 2) data subanalysis on treatment outcome by age. The 30-day Major Adverse Event (MAE) rate (disabling stroke, myocardial infarction or death) was extracted as well as demographic features of included patients.
Results: After exclusion of 23 articles, 46 studies were included in this review, 18 involving CAS and 28 involving CEA. A total of 2.963 CAS patients and 14.365 CEA patients with an age > 80 years were reviewed. The MAE rate was 6.9% (range 1.6 - 24.0%) following CAS and 4.2% (range 0 – 8.8%) following CEA.
A separate analysis in this review included the results of one major registry 140.376 patients) analyzing CEA in octogenarians only reporting on 30-day mortality and not on neurological or cardiac adverse events. When these data were included the MAE following CEA is 2.4% (range 0 – 8.8%)
Conclusions: MAE rates after CEA in octogenarians are comparable with the results of large randomized trials in younger patients. Higher complication rates are described for CAS in octogenarians. In general, age > 80 years is not an absolute cut off point to exclude patients from carotid surgery. In our opinion, CEA should remain the golden standard in the treatment of significant carotid artery stenoses, even in the very elderly.