BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: There is no consensus on the comparative efficacy and safety of carotid artery stenting (CAS) versus carotid endarterectomy (CEA) in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis. To evaluate CAS versus CEA in asymptomatic patients, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
METHODS: We systematically searched EMBASE, PubMed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Library for randomized controlled trials comparing CAS to CEA in asymptomatic patients using a pre-specified protocol. Two independent reviewers identified randomized controlled trials meeting our inclusion/exclusion criteria, extracted relevant data, and assessed quality using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Random effects models with inverse-variance weighting were used to estimate pooled risk ratios (RRs) comparing the incidences of periprocedural and long-term outcomes between CAS and CEA.
RESULTS: We identified 11 reports of 5 randomized controlled trials for inclusion (n=3019) asymptomatic patients. The pooled incidences of any periprocedural stroke (RR, 1.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.99–3.40), periprocedural nondisabling stroke (RR, 1.95; 95% CI, 0.98–3.89), and any periprocedural stroke or death (RR, 1.72; 95% CI, 0.95–3.11) trended toward an increased risk after CAS. We could not rule out clinically significant differences between treatments for long-term stroke (RR, 1.24; 95% CI, 0.76–2.03) and the composite outcome of periprocedural stroke, death or myocardial infarction, or long-term ipsilateral stroke (RR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.70–1.21).
CONCLUSIONS: Although uncertainty surrounds the long-term outcomes of CAS versus CEA, the potential for increased risks of periprocedural stroke and periprocedural stroke or death with CAS suggests that CEA is the preferred option for the management of asymptomatic carotid stenosis.