We hypothesize that stenting of the internal carotid artery can immediately impede blood flow to the external carotid artery by either plaque shift or stent coverage of the ostium, and thereby cause ischemic symptoms like ipsilateral jaw claudication.
Thirty-three patients with high-grade asymptomatic stenosis of the internal carotid artery who underwent endovascular treatment were examined by ultrasound of the external carotid artery and performed an exercise test by chewing chewing gum synchronously to an electronic metronome for 3 min. Tests were performed before, the day after, and 1 week after the stenting procedure. Claudication time was defined as the timespan until occurrence of pain of the masseter muscle and/or chewing dyssynchrony to the metronome for more than 15 s. Ten patients with an isolated, atherosclerotic stenosis of the external carotid artery served as controls.
A significantly reduced claudication time (in seconds) was recorded in patients who underwent carotid artery stenting compared to baseline values; median 89 (interquartile range, IQR, 57 to 124) vs. median 180 (IQR 153 to 180; p < 0.001). By categorization of the flow velocity at the external carotid artery into faster or slower as 200cm/sec, the effect was even accentuated. Stenting values showed improvement 1 week after but did not return to baseline levels. No respective changes were found in controls.
Stenting of the internal carotid artery lead to ipsilateral flow deterioration at the external carotid artery resulting in temporary jaw claudication. This impairment attenuated over the time and was significantly reduced after 1 week.