Carotid Artery Disease Treatments

Surgery for carotid artery disease

Your neurologist will discuss your treatment with a surgeon if they find that the carotid artery is narrowed. You will have had either a CT scan or an MRI scan by this stage to further assess the brain tissue and the arteries.If it is thought you will benefit from an operation, you will be invited to see a surgeon. You may have some more tests performed to see if you are suitable for surgery. Surgery is usually performed under a general anaesthetic through a vertical incision in the neck. The artery is freed from its surroundings and important structures such as nerves are identified to avoid damaging them. Clamps are then placed above and below the artery, and the artery is opened. Ultrasound scanning is sometimes employed to monitor the blood-flow to the brain during the procedure. The blockage is removed and the artery is closed using a patch that helps to keep the artery open in the future.

Are there any other options for treating carotid disease?

If the artery only mildly narrowed (less than 50%) then you will be treated with medications only, as large studies have shown that surgery will not be of benefit. Several studies have been performed to determine if stents can be placed into the carotid artery to prevent strokes. At present there is no evidence that the results of this procedure are better than a surgical operation, and there may be an increased risk of stroke and recurrence of narrowing within the stent later on. The only definite advantage is there less likelihood of injury to nerves. It is recommended only for use only in certain patients and in hospitals where it is performed frequently, when it is potentially as good as surgery.