Carotid Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a surgical and stenting procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the brain.

How is a Carotid Angioplasty done?
During the procedure, the surgeon will insert a small balloon catheter into an artery in the groin or arm and move it into a narrowing in the brain’s artery. The surgeon then inserts a small balloon and inflates the balloon to enlarge the narrowing in the artery.

Carotid angioplasty generally takes 1 to 2 hours. The patient is awake for the procedure but local anesthesia is used and pain medication can be given as needed.
Carotid Angioplasty is normally used in stroke treatment or stroke prevention in the following cases:
  • A carotid artery has a significant amount of blockage
  • The patient has had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (also called a TIA)
  • The patient has had a recurrence of blockage in the same artery
  • The patient is not physically capable for surgery
  • The blockage is difficult to reach with other procedures or surgery
As with any surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of:
  • Complications associated with anesthesia
  • Bleeding in the catheter access location
  • Stroke / stroke recurrence
  • Allergic reaction to chemicals used in the procedure or investigative procedures
  • Infection

Often, the stroke is related to some facet of the patient’s lifestyle or some form of co-morbidity, such as hypertension or diabetes. The carotid angioplasty attempts to correct the symptoms of the condition which brought about the blockage, but does nothing to deal with the underlying reason why the blockage started in the first place.

Because of this, without changes in the patient’s lifestyle or treatment of the co-morbid factor, the blockage is likely to happen again.

Risks can be reduced by following the physician's instructions before and after the procedure.
There may be cases where the blockages are not able to be treated by the angioplasty, or the angioplasty was performed and the results are not sufficient. In these cases, a carotid endarterectomy (CEA) may be required.
Not every patient is eligible for this procedure. The doctor will review the extent of the blockage as well as the patient’s medical history to determine if this surgery is appropriate for the patient.

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