DECREASED STROKE RISK CITED AS PRIMARY BENEFIT OF REGIONAL ANESTHESIA, ESPECIALLY IN OLDER PATIENTS
Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) has long been used in selected patients with carotid stenosis, especially in those with 70 to 99 percent stenosis of the internal carotid artery.1 The majority of those surgeries are performed under general anesthesia; however, an increasing number of neurosurgeons believe that performing the procedure under regional and local anesthesia results in superior outcomes. Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Scott Simon, M.D., strongly agrees. In fact, he and Robert Harbaugh, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, insist that all CEA patients receive regional anesthesia, in the absence of mitigating factors.
As Simon states, “Most of our patients have already had a stroke, and there’s evidence that putting a brain that’s already been injured under general anesthesia can cause cognitive limitations when the patient wakes up.” When asked about the landmark CREST (Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stenting Trial), which appeared to indicate that stenting offers similar outcomes to surgery, Simon points out that the data clearly indicate a much lower risk of postoperative stroke with CEA (2.3 percent versus 4.1 percent with stenting),1 a significant indicator of patient quality of life post-procedure. Further, of more than 2,500 patients in the CREST trial, only 10 percent received regional anesthesia.1 Continue reading