Intraoperative Cerebral Monitoring During Carotid Surgery: A Narrative Review

Antonio Bozzani, Vittorio Arici, Giulia Ticozzelli, Sandro Pregnolato, Stefano Boschini, Raffaele Fellegara, Simona Carando, Franco Ragni, Antonio V. Sterpetti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Intra-operative neurological monitoring (IONM) during carotid endarterectomy (CEA) aims to reduce neurological morbidity of surgery. Objective: This narrative review analyses the role and results of different methods of IONM. Methods: review articles on PUBMED and Cochrane Library, by searching key words related to IONM and CEA, from 2000 up to date. Results: regional anesthesia in some centers represents the “gold standard”. The most often used alternative techniques are: stump pressure, electroencephalogram, somatosensory evoked potentials, transcranical doppler ultrasound, near infrared spectroscopy and routine shunting. Every technique shows limitations. Regional anesthesia can make difficult prompt intubation when needed. Stump pressure shows a wide operative range. Electroencephalogram is unable to detect ischemia in sub-cortical regions of the brain. Somatosensory evoked potentials certainly demonstrate the presence of cerebral ischemia, but are no more specific or sensitive than the electroencephalogram. Transcranical doppler monitoring is undoubtedly operator-dependent and suffers from the limitations that the probe has to be placed relatively near to the surgical site and may impede the operator, especially if it needs constant adjustments; moreover, an acoustic window may not be found in 10% –20% of the subjects. Near infrared spectroscopy appears to have a high negative predictive value for cerebral ischemia, but has a poor positive predictive value and low specificity, because predominantly estimates venous oxygenation as this makes up about 80% of cerebral blood volume. The data on the use of Routine Shunting (RS) from RCTs are limited. Conclusions: currently, with no clear consensus on monitoring technique, choice should be guided by local expertise and complication rates. With reflection, best practice may dictate that a standard technique is selected as suggested above and this remains the default position for individual practice. Nevertheless, current techniques for monitoring cerebral perfusion during CEA are associated with false negative and false positive resulting in inappropriate shunt insertion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • carotid endarterectomy
  • cerebral monitoring
  • intraoperative cerebral ischemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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