Objective Head and neck malignancies are often treated with radiotherapy (RT). Nearly 80% of patients who have undergone RT will develop carotid radiation arteritis to some degree and 29% will develop stenosis >50%. Surgery in a radiated neck has higher rates of complications, and carotid artery stenting (CAS) has become the primary therapy. The outcomes for CAS in patients with radiation arteritis have not been rigorously evaluated. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the differences in perioperative outcomes, restenosis rates, the need for reintervention, and freedom from mortality between RT patients and patients with atherosclerotic disease who had undergone CAS.
Methods The national Vascular Quality Initiative CAS dataset from 2016 to 2019 comprised the sample for analyses (n = 7343). The primary independent variable was previous head and/or neck RT. The primary endpoint was the interval to mortality. The secondary endpoints were the cumulative incidence of restenosis (>50% and >70% by duplex ultrasound) and reintervention. We also examined the following secondary perioperative endpoints: myocardial infarction, in-hospital mortality (death before discharge), neurologic events, ipsilateral stroke, and contralateral stroke. Kaplan-Meier and multivariable Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess for mortality, and cumulative incidence function estimates were used for the nonfatal endpoints.
Results Of the 7218 patients, 1199 (17%) had undergone prior RT. We found a significant difference in the 3-year estimates of mortality for those with and without prior RT (9.4% and 7.5%, respectively; P = .03). Furthermore, on adjusted analysis, we observed a 58% increase in the risk of mortality for those with prior RT (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.58; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.21). We did not observe any differences in the risk of perioperative complications (myocardial infarction, in-hospital mortality, ipsilateral or contralateral stroke), restenosis (>50% or >70%), or reintervention for the prior RT group compared with those without RT.
Conclusions The CAS patients with RT had significantly greater mortality at all time points compared with those without RT, even after adjusting for other covariates. No significant difference was found in the incidence of perioperative complications, reintervention, or restenosis between the two groups. The present study is unique because of the large sample size and length of follow-up. The results suggest that for this high-risk group, CAS provides the same patency as it does for atherosclerotic carotid stenosis and avoids potentially morbid cranial nerve injury and wound healing complications.
From the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery
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