Stroke is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Traditional therapy for extracranial carotid artery occlusive disease, a significant risk factor for stroke, consists of optimal medical management and selective surgical treatment with carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for stroke risk reduction. Buoyed by the widespread application of percutaneous interventions for the treatment of coronary artery disease, carotid artery stenting (CAS) has steadily developed during the past decade as an alternative to CEA for patients who might benefit from surgical treatment. With greater operator experience have come advances in CAS techniques and patient selection criteria, and several single-center studies and industry-sponsored stent registries have demonstrated excellent results for CAS, especially compared with the landmark randomized CEA trials of the 1980s. Nevertheless, CAS has emerged as one of the most controversial procedures in the era of modern medicine, and recently published randomized trials from Europe have only stoked the fires of controversy. This study reviews the best available data for CAS as an alternative therapy to CEA for stroke risk reduction and gives an overview of eagerly anticipated large randomized trials.
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