During a 10-year period ending in December 1991, 31 extrathoracic bypass procedures were performed in 29 patients for proximal common carotid artery atherosclerotic stenosis or occlusion. This included 16 men and 13 women, with a mean age of 63 years. Indications for surgery included transient ischemic attacks in 23 patients (79%), nonfocal symptoms in 4 patients (14%), and asymptomatic proximal common carotid artery stenosis associated with near-total occlusion of the internal carotid artery in 2 patients (7%). Severe proximal stenosis or complete occlusion of the common carotid artery was demonstrated angiographically in all cases. Subclavian-to-carotid bypass was performed in 26 cases and carotid-to-carotid bypass in 5 cases. Seventy-four percent of the bypass procedures were to the common carotid artery and 26% to the external carotid artery. Endarterectomy of the common carotid bifurcation was performed in conjunction with the bypass procedure in 13 cases and vertebral artery transposition in 2 other cases. Saphenous vein was used as the bypass conduit in 65% and prosthetic grafts in 35% of cases. There were no perioperative strokes or deaths in this series, and the mean postoperative hospital stay was 5 days. Follow-up ranged from 2 to 118 months (mean: 38.4 months). Graft occlusion occurred in two cases during the follow-up period (3-year patency rate: 90%), with recurrence of symptoms in one patient, which necessitated revision. Three patients had persistence or recurrence of symptoms despite patency of the graft, one other patient sustained a posterior circulation infarct, and there was one death unrelated to carotid vascular disease during the follow-up period. This experience shows that extrathoracic bypass procedures are safe and well tolerated for symptomatic proximal common carotid artery stenosis or occlusion. This method of reconstruction has excellent long-term patency and protection against further anterior circulation neurologic events.
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