Management of carotid stenosis for primary and secondary prevention of stroke: State-of-the-art 2020: A critical review
Messas E., Goudot G., Halliday A., Sitruk J., Mirault T., Khider L., Saldmann F., Mazzolai L., Aboyans V.
© The Author(s) 2020. Carotid atherosclerotic plaque is encountered frequently in patients at high cardiovascular risk, especially in the elderly. When plaque reaches 50% of carotid lumen, it induces haemodynamically significant carotid stenosis, for which management is currently at a turning point. Improved control of blood pressure, smoking ban campaigns, and the widespread use of statins have reduced the risk of cerebral infarction to <1% per year. However, about 15% of strokes are still secondary to a carotid stenosis, which can potentially be detected by effective imaging techniques. For symptomatic carotid stenosis, current ESC guidelines put a threshold of 70% for formal indication for revascularization. A revascularization should be discussed for symptomatic stenosis over 50% and for asymptomatic carotid stenosis over 60%. This evaluation should be performed by ultrasound as a first-line examination. As a complement, computed tomography angiography (CTA) and/or magnetic resonance angiography are recommended for evaluating the extent and severity of extracranial carotid stenosis. In perspective, new high-risk markers are currently being developed using markers of plaque neovascularization, plaque inflammation, or plaque tissue stiffness. Medical management of patient with carotid stenosis is always warranted and applied to any patient with atheromatous lesions. Best medical therapy is based on cardiovascular risk factors correction, including lifestyle intervention and a pharmacological treatment. It is based on the tri-therapy strategy with antiplatelet, statins, and ACE inhibitors. The indications for carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and carotid artery stenting (CAS) are similar: for symptomatic patients (recent stroke or transient ischaemic attack) if stenosis >50%; for asymptomatic patients: tight stenosis (>60%) and a perceived high long-term risk of stroke (determined mainly by imaging criteria). Choice of procedure may be influenced by anatomy (high stenosis, difficult CAS or CEA access, incomplete circle of Willis), prior illness or treatment (radiotherapy, other neck surgery), or patient risk (unable to lie flat, poor AHA assessment). In conclusion, neither systematic nor abandoned, the place of carotid revascularization must necessarily be limited to the plaques at highest risk, leaving a large place for optimized medical treatment as first line management. An evaluation of the value of performing endarterectomy on plaques considered to be at high risk is currently underway in the ACTRIS and CREST 2 studies. These studies, along with the next result of ACST-2 trial, will provide us a more precise strategy in case of carotid stenosis.