Background: Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is one of the most frequently performed surgical procedures in the United States. Traditionally, this procedure has been performed by surgeons in at least four specialties. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of surgeon specialty on the long-term outcomes of CEA among patients receiving the procedure in Pennsylvania. Materials and methods: Data included 17,635 patient admissions for CEA performed between 1995 and 1997, and patient readmission data for the 5-y follow-up period ending in 2002. Five-y outcomes for these patients were compared between vascular, cardiothoracic, general, and neurosurgeons. The primary outcome measures were mortality, stroke, combined stroke and mortality, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and re-occlusion of the ipsilateral artery. Secondary outcomes measured were length of stay and total charges. Results: Using general surgeon as the reference group, and controlling for age, race, severity, and admission type, we found no significant difference across surgical specialties in overall mortality at 5 y post-CEA. Patients treated by vascular surgeons were found to have significantly fewer (P = 0.012) strokes and significantly lower re-occlusion rate (P = 0.021) at 5 y compared with patients of general surgeons. Patients treated by vascular surgeons also had significantly shorter hospital stay (P < 0.0001) but significantly higher charges (P < 0.0001) relative to general surgeons. Conclusions: These results suggest that there are significant differences in outcomes following carotid endarterectomy according to surgeon training. Additional research is needed to explore differences across specialties that may be driving outcomes and to explore the role of surgeon volume at the profession level and cross-volume effects on CEA outcomes.
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