Natural history of carotid artery occlusion

Darren S. Bryan, John G Carson, Heather Hall, Qi He, Khalil Qato, Laurie Lozanski, Susan McCormick, Christopher L. Skelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Carotid artery occlusion (CAO) is a risk factor for stroke ipsilateral to the occlusion and puts patients in a high-risk category when contralateral endarterectomy is performed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term outcomes of patients with internal CAO and to determine risk factors predictive of subsequent neurological event, contralateral carotid intervention, or death. Patients with internal CAO shown by duplex ultrasonography were retrospectively identified and followed between January 2002 and June 2010 (follow-up: 1-101 months, mean: 52 months) at a tertiary care hospital. All had multiple duplex examinations available for review. Chi-square analysis was used to determine risk factors for neurologic event, contralateral intervention, or all-cause morality. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard analysis was conducted using univariate risk factors with P values <0.1. Survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method (P < 0.05 significant). Eighty patients with internal CAO were identified and available for analysis. On initial encounter, 30 (38%) were symptomatic, with 26 (87%) having symptoms referable to the side of the occluded internal carotid artery. During follow-up, seven (9%) had a neurologic event, of which six (86%) were referable to the occluded side; 14 (18%) patients underwent a contralateral operation. Nineteen (24%) patients died during the period of study. Although numerous variables of multivessel disease were significant with χ2 analysis, there was no significant risk factor associated with neurologic event on multivariate analysis. However, the development of a hemodynamically significant stenosis (>50%) or occlusion of the external carotid artery (ECA) ipsilateral to the occlusion on follow-up (P < 0.027) was associated with increased risk of death. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed 7-year survival for patients with ECA disease at follow-up was significantly worse (16.2% ± 10.3% [n = 21] vs. 79% ± 8.7% [n = 59]; P < 0.00001). Frequently, patients present with neurological symptoms referable to the side of the internal CAO. Eighty-six percent of neurologic events that occur in follow-up are attributable to the side of the occluded carotid, indicating that the occluded side continues to contribute to neurologic morbidity over time. Multivariate analysis revealed no single factor to be predictive of subsequent neurologic events. With significant risk of death in patients found to have ipsilateral ECA stenosis during follow-up, it seems reasonable to continue surveillance of the occluded carotid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-193
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery


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