Aims: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the outcome of carotid artery stenting (CAS) in a single, high-volume centre of a single operator and to analyse the circumstances under which complications occur. Recent trials comparing CAS with carotid endarterectomy demonstrated controversial results. The low experience of interventionists in performing CAS was a major limitation of these studies. The number of procedures needed to achieve optimal skills is unknown.
Methods and results: From May 1997 until April 2010, 1,004 patients with symptomatic or asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis underwent CAS by a single operator. A cerebral protection device was in mandatory use since 2000. In-hospital complication rates were defined as the cumulative rate of death, myocardial infarction or stroke. Procedural success was achieved in 97.77% of patients. The perioperative complication rate was 1.69% including 0.2% deaths, 1.1% patients with minor stroke, 0.4% patients with major stroke. In 88% (15 out of 17) of the patients with complications, unfavourable anatomical or procedural factors could be identified. After the first 100 CAS performed,the complication rate was at 3% and significantly decreased to 1% after more than 500 procedures. Patients â‰¥ 80 years had a significantly higher complication rate.
Conclusions: In a high-volume experienced centre, the in-hospital complication rate is low. Complications occurred almost exclusively in patients with unfavourable anatomical or procedural characteristics and seem to be avoidable in most patients. A learning curve was observed up to 500 procedures. Elderly patients have a higher complication rate.