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Carotid Artery Treatments
Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment options may include lifestyle changes, medications, or a definitive procedure such as minimally invasive carotid stenting or open carotid endarterectomy. The vast majority of patients who are diagnosed with carotid artery disease through a Duplex ultrasound before symptoms develop can be managed medically.
Your vascular surgeon will perform a balloon angioplasty of the obstructed carotid blockage and insert a small stent, a metal-mesh tube, that expands inside your carotid artery to allow blood to flow. The stent is inserted through an artery in your groin or arm after numbing the skin with local anesthesia. Patients are awake and alert during the procedure in most instances. You may be asked to squeeze a small ball so that your surgeon can monitor your brain function during the procedure. Hospital stays are usually one day.
Endarterectomy is a procedure that directly removes the plaque. Carotid endarterectomy procedures have been performed for more than 50 years, and in the hands of experienced vascular surgeons are extremely safe procedures. Patients are either put to sleep or the vascular surgeon numbs the area over the artery while the patient stays awake so that he can communicate with the patient during the procedure. The surgeon clamps the artery below and above the blocked segment, makes an incision over the blockage, directly removes the diseased plaque, and repairs the artery. Sometimes a temporary shunt is placed to detour blood to the brain while the artery is clamped. Most patients leave the hospital the day after surgery.
Vascular surgeons are the only physicians treating vascular disease today who can perform all treatment options available, including medical management, minimally invasive endovascular angioplasty and stent procedures, and open carotid endarterectomy. Only when you see a vascular surgeon who offers all treatment modalities will you be assured of receiving the care that is most appropriate to your condition.
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