Emergency carotid endarterectomy
A retrospective review of carotid endarterectomies performed by the Neurosurgical Service at Massachusetts General Hospital from July, 1976, through December, 1985, disclosed 64 procedures that were performed on an emergency basis. The patients included 40 men and 24 women, with a mean age of 64 years (range 32 to 87 years). Correlation of angiographic findings with outcome revealed that of the 27 patients with severe stenosis, usually with delay in blood flow, 25 (93%) were the same or improved postoperatively; of the 11 patients with stenosis and an intraluminal filling defect (six of whom had an intraluminal clot), eight (73%) were the same or improved after surgery; of the 16 patients with complete occlusion, 14 (88%) were the same or improved (backflow was established in all cases); and of the 10 patients with moderate to severe stenosis and/or severe ulceration (including three with transient ischemic attacks who were receiving heparin), eight (80%) were the same or improved. Pre- and postoperative clinical status were graded into five categories: intact; mild deficit; moderate deficit (significant impairment but able to perform activities of daily living); severe deficit (requiring assistance for daily activities); and death. Of the 36 patients who preoperatively were intact or had mild deficits, 33 (92%) were the same or improved postoperatively, three were worse, and there were no deaths. Among 15 patients presenting with moderate deficits, 12 (80%) were the same or improved, two were worse, and one died. Of the 13 patients with severe deficits, 10 (77%) were the same or improved and three died. Two patients with sudden severe deficits associated with loss of contralateral bruit were operated on without angiography and were intact postoperatively. Of the four deaths in the total series, two were attributed to cardiac causes and two to unrelated disease processes. The indications for emergency carotid endarterectomy are discussed.