What Is Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting?
The carotid arteries supply blood to a large portion of the brain. Carotid stenosis is defined as a narrowing of one of the carotid arteries in the neck and may be detected by physical examination and then confirmed using noninvasive imaging such as MR Angiography, CT Angiography, or Doppler Ultrasound.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting is a minimally invasive procedure that treats areas of significant narrowing in the carotid arteries. The procedure involves dilating (or widening) the narrowed area with a balloon. After the balloon is inflated, a stent (mesh-like metallic device) is placed in the artery in order to keep the vessel open and maintain normal blood flow.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting is an alternative to a surgical procedure called a carotid endarterectomy. At this time, most patients who are reasonable surgical candidates should undergo a carotid endarterectomy rather than carotid angioplasty and stenting. However, angioplasty and stenting is a better alternative for patients who are not good surgical candidates, including patients with illnesses that prevent surgery, a history of prior radiation therapy to the neck, a history of prior carotid endarterectomy, and lesions that are difficult to access surgically.
Carotid stenosis may place a person at an increased risk of stroke and may also lead to mini-strokes (called transient ischemic attacks or TIA’s). Treatment with surgery or carotid angioplasty and stenting should be performed in many patients to reduce the chance of future stroke, though some areas of narrowing are best treated with medication. This decision should be made by a qualified medical professional.