Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is a surgical procedure performed to reduce the incidence of embolic and thrombotic stroke. Although only a preventive procedure, CEA carries the risk of perioperative complications. There is constant searching for an optimal anesthetic technique. There are pros and cons for both anesthetic techniques used: regional (RA) and general anesthesia (GA). A large number of studies have compared RA and GA techniques in CEA surgery patients. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with stroke, myocardial infarction, or death. However, neither the GALA trial nor the pooled analysis was adequately powered to reliably detect an effect of type of anesthesia on mortality. It may therefore be appropriate to consider other additional parameters (stress response, incidence of postoperative delirium and cognitive impairment, functional recovery, total surgery time, intensive care unit requirement, hospital stay, hospital costs and patients satisfaction) when comparing the outcomes of the two techniques.
Although, the debate continues as to whether regional anesthesia or general anesthesia is safer, the choice of anesthetic technique is a complex decision and surgical teams should be able to offer both RA and GA. The individual approach is the ideal choice and should be determined at the discretion of the surgeon, anesthetist and patient depending on the clinical situation and own preferences.
Key words: surgery, carotid endarterectomy, anesthesia, general, regional, outcome