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October 1993

Anticoagulation Followed by Elective Carotid Surgery in Patients With Repetitive Transient Ischemic Attacks and High-Grade Carotid Stenosis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(10):1117-1123. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420220037005

Objective:  To evaluate the results of preoperative heparin therapy followed by carotid surgery for patients with repetitive transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) and high-grade carotid stenoses.

Design:  A 4-year prospective study.

Setting:  Oregon Health Science University Hospital and Portland (Ore) Veterans Affairs Hospital.

Patients:  Twenty-nine consecutive patients with repetitive TIAs referable to 30 high-grade (≥70%) ipsilateral carotid stenoses were treated with short-term heparin anticoagulation, followed by cerebral angiography, routine preoperative evaluation, and subsequent carotid reconstruction.

Interventions:  Heparin sodium anticoagulation was maintained for a mean of 5 days. Surgical management consisted of 24 standard endarterectomies, five bypasses to the internal carotid artery, and one external carotid endarterectomy.

Main Outcome Measures:  Primary outcome variables included perioperative hemorrhage, thrombocytopenia, stroke, and death. Secondary outcome variables included carotid occlusion and recurrent TIAs with heparin therapy.

Results:  One symptomatic common carotid occlusion and one asymptomatic internal carotid occlusion occurred during preoperative heparin therapy. Thirteen patients had additional sporadic TIAs while receiving heparin. There were no preoperative cerebral infarcts, thrombocytopenia, or clinical bleeding associated with heparin therapy. There was one postoperative stroke and one death due to myocardial infarction.

Conclusion:  When necessary, heparin anticoagulation and delayed carotid reconstruction would appear to be an acceptable alternative to emergency carotid surgery in patients with high-grade carotid stenosis and acute repetitive TIAs.(Arch Surg. 1993;128:1117-1123)