Carotid Endarterectomy: Comparison of Complications Between Transverse and Longitudinal Incision.
Cranial nerve injury (CNI) is the most common neurological complication associated with carotid endarterectomy (CEA). Some authors postulate that the transverse skin incision leads to increased risk of CNI.
We compared the incidence of CNI associated with the transverse and longitudinal skin incisions in a high-volume cerebrovascular center.
We reviewed the charts of 226 consecutive patients who underwent CEAs between January 2007 and August 2009. Pre- and postoperative standardized neurological evaluations were performed by faculty neurologists and neurosurgeons.
169 of 226 (75%) CEAs were performed using a transverse incision. The longitudinal incision was generally reserved for patients with a high-riding carotid bifurcation. Mean patient age was 69 years (range, 45-91 years); 62% were males; 59% of patients were symptomatic, and 70% had high-grade stenosis (70%-99%). CNI occurred in 8 cases (3.5%): 5 (3%) in transverse and 3 (5.3%) with longitudinal incisions (p=0.42). There were 2 marginal mandibular nerve injuries, 1 (0.6%) transverse and 1 (1.7%) longitudinal; 5 recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries, 4 (2.3%) transverse and 1 (0.4%) longitudinal; and 1 case (0.5%) of hypoglossal nerve injury associated with longitudinal incision. One hematoma was associated with CNI. All injuries were transient. Fourteen wound hematomas required surgical evacuation (6.1%).
The transverse skin incision for CEAs is not associated with an increased risk of CNI (p =0.42). In this study, the incidence of CNI associated with the transverse incision was 3% (n=5) versus 5% (n=3) for longitudinal incisions. All CNI were temporary.