Blocked carotid arteries can lead to serious, even life-threatening health problems like stroke.
Vascular surgeons perform carotid angioplasty and stenting procedures to open blocked carotid arteries and help lower your risk of stroke.
At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute, our vascular surgeons are experts in carotid angioplasty and stenting. We take a team approach to quickly diagnose and treat each patient we see based on their individual needs.
Your carotid arteries are the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain, neck, and face.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting is a procedure that first uses a balloon-tipped catheter to open the blocked artery. Then, a metal mesh tube is used to keep the artery open and allow for normal blood flow.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting can treat carotid artery stenosis — the narrowing of the carotid arteries due to plaque build-up.
Carotid artery stenosis can lead to serious, even life-threatening conditions like:
In some cases, a stroke or mini-stroke is the first sign of a blocked carotid artery. These conditions are medical emergencies that can lead to permanent disability and death without immediate treatment.
If you think you or someone else is having a stroke or mini-stroke, call 911 right away.
Your doctor will go over your medical history and perform a physical exam.
You may also have a series of tests, including:
In the days before your treatment, you will need to take aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix®). These prevent blood clots from building up inside the stent and helps to prevent pre-operative stroke.
Talk with your doctor about all medicines you take and ask what is safe to take before your procedure.
You will get medicine to help you relax and medicine to numb the area of your puncture site.
During your procedure, your surgeon will then:
This procedure typically takes up to two hours. Most patients can go home within one or two days.
After your procedure, your surgeon will remove the catheter and place a bandage at your puncture site. He or she will let you know when you can return to work and your other daily activities.
Your surgeon will suggest lifestyle changes, like:
You will also need medicine to help:
Like any medical procedure, carotid angioplasty and stenting can have risks.
These may include:
The vascular surgeons at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute are experts in carotid angioplasty and stenting procedures.
If carotid angioplasty and stenting isn’t the best option for you, we will recommend other treatment options.
To see a vascular surgeon at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
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