BACKGROUND: Previous clinical trials have suggested that carotid-artery stenting with a device to capture and remove emboli (“embolic protection”) is an effective alternative to carotid endarterectomy in patients at average or high risk for surgical complications.
METHODS: In this trial, we compared carotid-artery stenting with embolic protection and carotid endarterectomy in patients 79 years of age or younger who had severe carotid stenosis and were asymptomatic (i.e., had not had a stroke, transient ischemic attack, or amaurosis fugax in the 180 days before enrollment) and were not considered to be at high risk for surgical complications. The trial was designed to enroll 1658 patients but was halted early, after 1453 patients underwent randomization, because of slow enrollment. Patients were followed for up to 5 years. The primary composite end point of death, stroke, or myocardial infarction within 30 days after the procedure or ipsilateral stroke within 1 year was tested at a noninferiority margin of 3 percentage points.
RESULTS: Stenting was noninferior to endarterectomy with regard to the primary composite end point (event rate, 3.8% and 3.4%, respectively; P=0.01 for noninferiority). The rate of stroke or death within 30 days was 2.9% in the stenting group and 1.7% in the endarterectomy group (P=0.33). From 30 days to 5 years after the procedure, the rate of freedom from ipsilateral stroke was 97.8% in the stenting group and 97.3% in the endarterectomy group (P=0.51), and the overall survival rates were 87.1% and 89.4%, respectively (P=0.21). The cumulative 5-year rate of stroke-free survival was 93.1% in the stenting group and 94.7% in the endarterectomy group (P=0.44).
CONCLUSIONS: In this trial involving asymptomatic patients with severe carotid stenosis who were not at high risk for surgical complications, stenting was noninferior to endarterectomy with regard to the rate of the primary composite end point at 1 year. In analyses that included up to 5 years of follow-up, there were no significant differences between the study groups in the rates of non-procedure-related stroke, all stroke, and survival. (Funded by Abbott Vascular; ACT I ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00106938.).