, 16:440

Asymptomatic Carotid Stenosis: Immediate Revascularization or Watchful Waiting?

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Based on several randomized clinical trials, carotid revascularization has been shown to reduce future stroke risk among individuals with severe asymptomatic carotid stenosis. However, a well-recognized problem with such prophylactic intervention is the risk of periprocedural stroke, death, or myocardial infarction. If actual stroke risk with asymptomatic carotid stenosis can be reduced significantly by aggressive medical management, carotid revascularization may yield marginal benefit or even cause harm especially in those with limited life expectancy. Based on recent observational data, it is becoming apparent that the stroke risk in this population has been declining with better medical management alone. This has prompted a few to avoid carotid revascularization for asymptomatic carotid stenosis altogether. Others feel such conclusions cannot be made with observational data alone. In the midst of this controversy, it is important that clinicians perform carotid revascularization on a case by case basis while ensuring optimal medical management in all patients. An algorithmic approach to decision making based on available evidence will enable clinicians to personalize patient management with efficiency.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Peripheral Vascular Disease