Chronic total occlusion and spontaneous recanalization of the internal carotid artery: Natural history and management strategy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Spontaneous recanalization of a chronic total occlusion of the extra-cranial internal carotid artery is an under-reported clinical entity. This paper reviews the different etiologies of internal carotid artery occlusion, its natural course, as well as the significance and our recommendations for the management of spontaneous internal carotid artery recanalization. Methods: A review of literature on etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of internal carotid artery occlusion and recanalization was conducted. PubMed database was searched using the terms “internal carotid occlusion” and “recanalization”. Articles were reviewed and studies involving the management of internal carotid artery occlusion and spontaneous recanalization were included. We subsequently developed a management algorithm for chronic total occlusion of the internal carotid artery and spontaneous recanalization of such lesions based on the available evidence. Results: Common etiologies of chronic total occlusion of the internal carotid artery include carotid atherosclerotic disease, cardioembolic, and carotid dissection. Progression of an asymptomatic to symptomatic occlusion is estimated at 2–8% annually. Well-compensated patients can be asymptomatic. In others, clinical symptoms range from ipsilateral or global hypoperfusion to embolic stroke in some cases of spontaneous recanalization. Spontaneous recanalization occurs in 2.3–10.3% of patients but rarely results in a cerebrovascular event. Conclusions: Progression of an asymptomatic chronic total occlusion of the internal carotid artery to symptomatic is infrequent. The management algorithm of chronic total occlusion of the internal carotid artery and spontaneous recanalization of the internal carotid artery must be tailored to the patient based on symptoms, etiology of the lesion, imaging findings, surgical risk, and reliability for follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalVascular
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • carotid dissection
  • carotid endarterectomy
  • carotid thrombosis
  • Internal carotid occlusion
  • spontaneous recanalization
  • stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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