Review of developments in anesthesia for carotid endarterectomy

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Purpose of review

Analysis of recent data indicates a clear benefit of carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic patients with high-grade carotid artery stenosis, and a marginal benefit for asymptomatic patients. Despite myriad challenges presented by patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy, excellent outcomes have been achieved and many centers have shown the technique to be safe as an outpatient procedure for specific populations. Greater attention to comorbidities and their management in the perioperative period is increasingly important as older and more complex patients present for invasive treatment of carotid disease. Scientific study aimed at defining which characteristics merit our attention will only lead to improved outcomes and greater understanding of carotid disease, endarterectomy and anesthesia. While controversial, the efficacy, safety, and durability of stenting and angioplasty have improved in recent years. Potential advantages of stenting and angioplasty of the carotid artery include avoiding cranial nerve damage, wound hematoma, and general anesthesia. Staying abreast of the science regarding such endovascular therapies will be increasingly important.

Recent findings

The major areas of investigative interest include patient selection, anesthetic technique, and monitoring for carotid endarterectomy, and durability of stenting and angioplasty of the carotid artery.


Patients with significant comorbidities may be managed safely by a variety of anesthetic techniques. Maintaining hemodynamic stability and monitoring cerebral oxygen delivery remain important goals of perioperative management. Recent data regarding the durability and safety of stenting and angioplasty of the carotid artery suggest that outcomes may approach those of carotid endarterectomy.

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