Carotid Artery Disease

When you feel the pulse on either side of your neck you are feeling the blood being pumped from your heart through the carotid arteries, the two large blood vessels in your neck. These arteries supply your brain with blood. When the Carotid arteries become narrowed or blocked, you have an increased risk of having a stroke.

It is a disease that often does not cause symptoms, but that can have serious results. Left untreated, the narrowed arteries reduces of blood supply to your brain. Carotid Artery Disease caused by atherosclerosis may result in the plaque in a carotid artery cracking or rupturing and creating an embolus, blood clot, that travels to the brain resulting in a stroke.

If your disease is in the early stages and the narrowing has not progressed too far, your condition may be best treated with medications that control your cholesterol, avoiding tobacco and close observation.

If your disease is more progressed, two options to reduce your risk of stroke are surgery and carotid artery stenting. The surgical option, called carotid endarterectomy, involves the actual removal of the plaque from your carotid artery and the sewing on of a patch to widen the vessel. Stenting is the placement of a metal scaffolding within the vessel to increase it’s intra-lumenial diameter and prevent plaque from breaking off and embolizing to the brain. Stenting is preformed through a small puncture in the femoral artery.

Each technique, endarterectomy and stenting, carries its own set of risks and benefits and our surgeons are experts in both techniques. The treatment of your condition will be tailored to your unique situation and the best treatment offered depending or your needs. The surgeons at University Surgical Vascular will carefully explain your options. A comprehensive discussion with you about the details of your disease and treatment options is an important part of the care we deliver.

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