Carotid Artery Stent

We all have two carotid arteries in our bodies. These arteries are located in the neck (one on the right and one on the left) and transport blood to the brain. Sometimes, these arteries develop plaque in them and can become blocked, which can increase the risk of stroke.

What is a Carotid Artery Stent?

If you are diagnosed with severe carotid artery blockages of 70% or greater, your doctor may recommend a stent or surgical endarterectomy to restore blood flow.

The carotid artery stent procedure is a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with carotid artery disease, a condition where the carotid arteries become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of plaque. This procedure involves the placement of a stent – a small metal mesh tube – inside the carotid artery to widen and support the artery, restoring normal blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of stroke. During stenting, our specialists guide a stent mounted on a catheter through a small groin or wrist incision. The stent expands at the site of the blockage to prop the artery open. This procedure re-establishes blood supply to the brain and helps prevent stroke.

Risks & Benefits of Carotid Artery Stenting

The carotid artery stent procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat carotid artery disease and reduce the risk of stroke. However, like any medical intervention, it is important to weigh the potential risks against the benefits before deciding on the procedure.

Benefits of Carotid Artery Stenting

  • Reduced risk of stroke
    The primary benefit of the carotid artery stent procedure is its effectiveness in restoring normal blood flow to the brain, significantly reducing the risk of stroke. By widening the narrowed artery and preventing plaque-related blockages, the procedure can prevent potentially life-threatening neurological events.
  • Minimally invasive
    The carotid artery stent procedure is minimally invasive, requiring only a small incision in the groin area. This approach results in less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times compared to traditional open surgery.
  • Improved cardiovascular health
    By addressing carotid artery disease, the procedure enhances overall cardiovascular health, promoting better blood circulation and reducing the risk of heart-related complications.

Risks of Carotid Artery Stenting

  • Procedural risks
    As with any medical procedure, there are inherent risks involved in the carotid artery stent procedure. These include bleeding, infection, stroke, or blood clot formation at the stent site.
  • Stent complications
    There is a slight risk of stent migration or dislodgment, which could lead to further complications. Additionally, allergic reactions to the materials used in the stent are possible, although rare.
  • Individual factors
    The suitability of the carotid artery stent procedure varies from patient to patient. Certain health conditions or anatomical considerations may increase the risk for some individuals, making a careful evaluation of each case crucial for deciding on the best approach to treatment.

What to Expect Before, During, and After a Carotid Artery Stent

Before undergoing carotid artery stenting, your interventional cardiologist will thoroughly review your medical history and perform neurological examinations to determine your risk for stroke. You may need to undergo CT, MRI, ultrasound, or angiogram imaging studies to clearly visualize the location and extent of blockages in your carotid arteries. Your doctor may also prescribe blood-thinning or antiplatelet medications prior to the procedure if you are not taking them already. You will be instructed not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening before your scheduled stent procedure.

The carotid stenting procedure typically takes 1-2 hours and is performed under local anesthetic and mild sedation. Your doctor will insert a catheter and stent from an incision in your wrist or groin area and carefully guide it through your vascular system up to the site of your blocked carotid artery. Once properly positioned, your doctor will expand the stent with a small balloon to prop open your narrowed carotid vessel. This restores blood flow to your brain and reduces your risk of stroke. After the procedure, you will need to be closely monitored in a recovery unit for 4-6 hours. Some patients will be allowed to return home on the same day of the procedure, while others will be admitted overnight for monitoring. Here are a few things to consider after carotid artery stenting:

  • Inform your other healthcare providers that you have a carotid stent, since certain imaging tests or procedures may need to be avoided.
  • Carry your wallet card, noting you have a carotid stent in case of a medical emergency.
  • Maintain healthy lifestyle habits like a low-fat diet, exercise, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol intake.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure the stented artery remains open and monitor your stroke risk factors.
  • Continue to use all of the medications prescribed by your doctor, including medications to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent stroke.

Am I a Candidate for Carotid Artery Stenting?

The decision to undergo a carotid artery stent procedure is a crucial one and requires a careful evaluation of individual health factors and medical history. If you have been diagnosed with carotid artery disease or are at risk of developing it, you may wonder if you are a suitable candidate for the carotid artery stent procedure. Here are some key considerations that can help determine if the procedure is right for you

  • Carotid artery disease diagnosis
    The carotid artery stent procedure is typically recommended for individuals with significant carotid artery narrowing caused by atherosclerosis (plaque buildup). A thorough diagnostic evaluation, including imaging tests such as carotid ultrasound, CT angiography, or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), will be conducted to assess the degree of artery blockage.
  • Stroke risk
    If you have experienced previous transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or strokes due to carotid artery disease, the procedure may be a suitable option to reduce the risk of future stroke events.
  • Overall health
    Your general health and medical history play a crucial role in determining your candidacy for the carotid artery stent procedure. Factors such as age, other existing health conditions, and previous medical treatments will be taken into account during the assessment.
  • Anatomical considerations
    The anatomy of your carotid arteries will be carefully evaluated to ensure that the stent can be safely placed and anchored in the narrowed segment of the artery.
  • Alternative treatments
    Your doctor will also consider alternative treatment options, such as medication or lifestyle changes, and weigh their benefits and risks against the carotid artery stent procedure.

Minimize Your Stroke Risk with a Carotid Artery Stent

If you have been diagnosed with severe blockages in your carotid arteries, don't wait to take action. The carotid artery stent procedure can restore blood flow to your brain and reduce your risk of stroke without the need for open surgery. Request an appointment with our interventional cardiologists to find out if this procedure is right for you.


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