: Prevention of distal embolization during carotid artery stenting (CAS) is a key element of procedural technique and is standardly performed using distal protection devices (DPDs). Data in support of DPDs, however, are limited. Here, we present our experience of proximal occlusion using a balloon guide catheter (BGC) during CAS as the primary method of distal embolic protection.
: We conducted a retrospective review of patients undergoing CAS at our healthcare system between January of 2018 to March of 2021. Procedures were categorized by embolic protection strategy: DPD or BGC (with or without DPD). Emergent cases were defined as patients receiving CAS within <24 hours of presenting with an ischemic stroke or TIA ipsilateral to the carotid disease side. Severe stenosis was defined as 70–99% per NASCET criteria. The primary outcome was rate of procedural ischemic stroke between the DPD and BGC groups, and was defined as acute focal neurological deficit lasting for ≥ 24 hours following CAS related to an embolic event during the procedure.
: A total of 126 CAS procedures were performed during the study period. 91 cases were performed under proximal BGC protection (of which 24 also included DPD usage) and 35 CAS cases via DPD as a primary mean for embolic protection. The median age for the cohort was 68 [IQR 62‐76], 37% females, 31% (n = 39) cases were treated emergently, and elective cases were 69% (n = 87). Baseline characteristics were similar in both groups except for hyperlipidemia (BGC vs DPD, 71.4% vs 42.9%; p = 0.003) and history of smoking (BGC vs DPD, 56% vs 34.4%; p = 0.029). Severe carotid stenosis was present in 80.2% BGC group and 77.1% in DPD (p = 0.573). Post‐stenting balloon angioplasty was more frequent in the BGC group as compared with DPD (54% vs. 26%, BGC vs. DPD, p = 0.005). Procedural embolic stroke rates were low in both groups, and not significantly different (1.1% vs. 2.9%, BGC vs. DPD, p = 0.48).
: CAS with BGC as the primary means of distal embolic protection showed comparable, low rates of procedural embolic ischemic events compared to those with DPD. These findings suggest BGC embolic strategies may be a viable alternative to DPD usage.