(RxWiki News) When plaque builds up in the major arteries in the neck, the risk of stroke increases. But invasive surgery may no longer be necessary to address the blockage.
A recent study compared two treatments for carotid artery disease (CAD), a condition in which plaque hinders blood from flowing toward the brain, which can cause a stroke.
Endarterectomy is an invasive surgical procedure in which a surgeon removes the plaque from the artery. CAD can also be treated with a stent, or a tube that is placed in the artery through the groin to improve blood flow.
The study concluded that stents, which are less invasive, are just as effective at preventing stroke as endarterectomy.
Study leader Martin M. Brown, FRCP, of the UCL Institute of Neurology in London, said that, while the procedure has risks, "stenting should be offered as an option to many more patients under the age of 70."
He added that "more staff should be trained to carry out the procedure and gain experience."
Dr. Brown and colleagues recruited 1,713 patients with CAD for the study.
Half of the patients underwent stenting. The other half underwent endarterectomy.
Researchers followed up with the patients for an average of 4.2 years.
In the stenting group, 52 patients experienced a stroke during that time. In the endarterectomy group, 49 patients had strokes.
Although strokes were more common in the stenting group, most of them were not disabling.
The researchers concluded that stents were just as effective as the invasive surgery at preventing fatal or disabling strokes.
They noted that both procedures had risks but were still successful at preventing stroke.
The study was published Oct. 14 in The Lancet.
The research was funded by the Medical Research Council, Stroke Association, Sanofi-Synthélabo and European Union. Some of the authors reported financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer.