Immediate reexploration for the perioperative neurologic event after carotid endarterectomy: is it worthwhile

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Aged; Brain Ischemia; Central Nervous System Diseases; Cerebral Hemorrhage; Data Interpretation, Statistical; Endarterectomy, Carotid; Female; Humans; Intraoperative Complications; Male; Prognosis; Prospective Studies; Reoperation; Risk Factors; Stroke; Thromboembolism; Time Factors; Treatment Outcome




PURPOSE: When managing a new neurologic deficit after carotid endarterectomy (CEA), the surgeon is often preoccupied with determining the cause of the problem, requesting diagnostics tests, and deciding whether the patient should be surgically reexplored. The goal of this study was to analyze a series of perioperative neurologic events and to determine if careful analysis of their timing and mechanisms can predict which cases are likely to improve with reoperation.

METHODS: A review of 2024 CEAs performed from 1985 to 1997 revealed 38 patients who manifested a neurologic deficit in the perioperative period (1.9%). These cases form the focus of this analysis.

RESULTS: The causes of the events included intraoperative clamping ischemia in 5 patients (13.2%); thromboembolic events in 24 (63.2%); intracerebral hemorrhage in 5 (13.2%); and deficits unrelated to the operated artery in 4 (10.5%). Neurologic events manifesting in the first 24 hours after surgery were significantly more likely to be caused by thromboembolic events than by other causes of stroke (88.0% vs. 12.0%, P<.002); deficits manifesting after the first 24 hours were significantly more likely to be related to other causes. Of 25 deficits manifesting in the first 24 hours after surgery, 18 underwent immediate surgical reexploration. Intraluminal thrombus was noted in 15 of the 18 reexplorations (83. 3%); any technical defects were corrected. After the 18 reexplorations, in 12 cases there was either complete resolution of or significant improvement in the neurologic deficit that had been present (66.7%).

CONCLUSIONS: Careful analysis of the timing and presentation of perioperative neurologic events after CEA can predict which cases are likely to improve with reoperation. Neurologic deficits that present during the first 24 hours after CEA are likely to be related to intraluminal thrombus formation and embolization. Unless another etiology for stroke has clearly been established, we think immediate reexploration of the artery without other confirmatory tests is mandatory to remove the embolic source and correct any technical problems. This will likely improve the neurologic outcome in these patients, because an uncorrected situation would lead to continued embolization and compromise.

DOI of Published Version



J Vasc Surg. 2000 Dec;32(6):1062-70. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of vascular surgery : official publication, the Society for Vascular Surgery [and] International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery, North American Chapter


At the time of publication, Andres Schanzer was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

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Link to Article in PubMed

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