Sammanfattning: Carotid stenosis is one of several causes of ischemic stroke and entails a high risk of ischemic stroke recurrence. Removal of a carotid stenosis by carotid endarterectomy results in a risk reduction for ischemic stroke, but the magnitude of risk reduction depends on several factors. If the delay between the last symptom and carotid endarterectomy is less than 2 weeks, the absolute risk reduction is >10%, regardless of age, sex, or if the degree of carotid stenosis is 50–69% or 70–99%. Thus, speed is the key. However, if many patients suffers an ischemic stroke recurrence within the first 2 weeks of the presenting event, an additional benefit is likely be obtained if carotid endarterectomy is performed even earlier than within 2 week after the presenting event.Carotid endarterectomy for asymptomatic carotid stenoses carries a small risk reduction for stroke. Screening for asymptomatic carotid stenosis requires a prevalence of >5% in the examined population, i.e., higher than in the general population; however, directed screening in groups with a prevalence of >5% is beneficial.The aims of this thesis were to investigate the length of the delay to carotid endarterectomy, determine the risk of recurrent stroke before carotid endarterectomy, and determine if a calcification in the area of the carotid arteries seen on dental panoramic radiographs is a valid selection method for directed ultrasound screening to detect asymptomatic carotid stenosis.Consecutive patients with a symptomatic carotid stenosis who underwent a preoperative evaluation aimed at carotid endarterectomy at Umeå Stroke Centre between January 1, 2004–March 31, 2006 (n=275) were collected retrospectively and between August 1, 2007–December 31, 2009 (n=230) prospectively. In addition, 117 consecutive persons, all preliminarily eligible for asymptomatic carotid endarterectomy and with a calcification in the area of the carotid arteries seen on panoramic radiographs, were prospectively examined with carotid ultrasound.The median delay between the presenting event and carotid endarterectomy was 11.7 weeks in the first half year of 2004, dropped to 6.9 weeks in the first quarter year of 2006, and had dropped to 3.6 weeks in the second half year of 2009.The risk of ipsilateral ischemic stroke recurrence was 4.8% within 2 days, 7.9% within 1 week, and 11.2% within 2 weeks of the presenting event. For patients with a stroke or transient ischemic attack as the presenting event, this risk was 6.0% within 2 days, 9.7% within 1 week, and 14.3% within 2 weeks of the presenting event. For the 10 patients with a near-occlusion, the risk of ipsilateral ischemic stroke recurrence was 50% at 4 weeks after the presenting event.Among the 117 persons with a calcification in the area of the carotid arteries seen on panoramic radiographs, eight had a 50–99% carotid stenosis, equalling a prevalence of 6.8% (not statistically significantly over the pre-specified 5% threshold). Among men, the prevalence of 50–99% carotid stenosis was 12.5%, which was statistically significantly over the pre-specified 5% threshold.In conclusion: The delay to carotid endarterectomy was longer than 2 weeks. Additional benefit is likely to be gained by performing carotid endarterectomy within a few days of the presenting event instead of at 2 weeks because many patients suffer a stroke recurrence within a few days; speed is indeed the key. The finding that near-occlusion entails an early high risk of stroke recurrence stands in sharp contrast to previous studies; one possible explaination is that this was a high-risk period missed in previous studies. The incidental finding of a calcification in the area of the carotid arteries on a panoramic radiograph is a valid indication for carotid ultrasound screening in men who are otherwise eligible for asymptomatic carotid endarterectomy.
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