Abstract 2509: Standardized Reports Are Needed To Describe Carotid Artery Stenosis
Background: Landmark clinical trials have shown that carotid procedures can greatly reduce the risk of stroke in persons with symptomatic carotid artery stenosis between 70 and 99% and can somewhat reduce the risk of stroke in persons with symptomatic carotid stenosis between 50 and 69%. Guidelines have recommended that results from carotid artery imaging tests be presented in these ranges to facilitate decision-making. We sought to determine how carotid imaging results were reported across Veterans Administration (VA) facilities.
Methods: Carotid artery imaging results were obtained as part of a comprehensive chart review of veterans hospitalized with ischemic stroke at 127 VA hospitals in fiscal year 2007. Abstractors recorded the results of carotid ultrasound, MR angiography, CT angiography, or catheter angiography performed in the twelve months prior to admission to six months after admission. We excluded carotid artery imaging reports with results of “no stenosis”, “mild stenosis”, exact degree of stenosis <50%, or any range of stenosis <50% to focus on those reports that would likely inform decisions about carotid procedures. The unit of analysis was the carotid artery. We described how often the results were presented as an exact degree (such as 60%), as a range (such as 50 to 69%), or as a descriptive category (“moderate” or “severe” stenosis). For results described as a range, we examined how often it matched those used in landmark trials.
Results: Of 6527 results of carotid artery imaging, there were 1315 results of greater than 50% or at least “moderate stenosis” (see Table). Only 234 of the reports used a range to describe the stenosis; among this set, only 55 of the reports used a 50-69% or 70-99% range to describe the stenosis.
Conclusions: In this national healthcare system, significant carotid artery stenosis was rarely reported in a way that exactly mapped onto recommendations from landmark clinical trials and guidelines. Clinicians who order these diagnostic tests as well as clinicians who interpret these diagnostic tests should collaborate to produce standardized reports that facilitate decision-making.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.