Carotid Artery Surgery Can Help Prevent Stroke In Our Senior Population That Is Much More Susceptible To Developing Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery surgery is necessary for patients with blockage in the carotid artery because as carotid artery disease progresses and the arteries narrow, the possibility of getting a stroke increases. At The Vein and Vascular Institute of Spring Hill our vascular physicians use the most advanced minimally-invasive surgical techniques, such as balloon angioplasty and stenting to treat carotid artery disease.
Applying the revolutionary TCAR (TransCarotid Artery Revascularization) procedure offers our patients the safest and most effective carotid artery disease treatment available anywhere.
With over 130,000 unexpected deaths caused by carotid artery blockage (carotid artery disease), our Spring Hill vascular surgeons recommend getting treatment as soon as carotid artery blockage has reached a dangerous level because carotid artery disease can become fatal.
What is Carotid Artery Disease?
Carotid arteries are the major arteries in the neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When the carotid arteries become narrowed or blocked by a build up of plaque (a sticky substance made up of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue), this is a dangerous condition referred to as carotid artery disease.
Narrowed or blocked carotid arteries are very serious because they restrict blood flow to the brain. This results in compromised brain function and also puts you at increased risk of having a stroke which can cause permanent brain damage and death.
What causes a blocked carotid artery?
Carotid artery blockage is a disease that develops as you age. Ten percent of adults between the ages of 80 and 89 suffer from carotid artery disease, but only one percent of adults between 50 and 59 suffer from it. The incidence is higher in people who smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Poor diet and lack of exercise also put you at a higher risk of developing the disease.
If you have a family history of Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or stroke, you are also at higher risk for developing carotid artery blockage. In addition, men are more likely to develop the disease than women.
Carotid artery blockage symptoms
Unfortunately, a person could have carotid artery disease and show absolutely no signs or symptoms of the disease.
As a warning sign of carotid arterial disease, a person could experience what is known as a “mini-stroke” (or transient ischemic attack – TIA). A TIA is a temporary episode where a person experiences loss of vision in one or both eyes, numbness or weakness in the arm, leg or face on one side of the body, slurred speech, difficulty understanding what someone else is saying, difficulty talking, a loss of coordination, dizziness or confusion and/or trouble swallowing. Usually, this episode can last just a few minutes, or up to 24 hours.
If you have ever experienced any of the symptoms related to TIA, it is important to schedule a consultation with a vascular surgeon as soon as possible to see if you have any blockage in your carotid artery, because if you do have blockage it will only worsen with time, leading you to a stroke which can be fatal or that could leave you disabled for life.
Diagnosis of Carotid Artery Disease
Based on your vascular consultation your vascular surgeon may recommend a carotid ultrasound. A carotid ultrasound is performed to examine the health of your carotid arteries and to discover if any blockage has developed and to what extent the blockage has progressed.
If the results of the ultrasound are not clear or if your physician needs more information regarding the blockage, a Carotid Angiography is performed as well. During the Angiography, a contrast dye is injected into your bloodstream so that the carotid artery can be more easily viewed and examined by x-ray.
Another method of diagnosis is through Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) where pictures of your carotid artery are taken using a large magnet and radio waves.
Yet another method of diagnosis is Computed Tomography Angiography or CT Angiography, where a computer is used to produce two-dimensional and three-dimensional images from x-ray pictures of your carotid arteries.
All these methods of diagnoses help the vascular physician determine to what extent the blockage of your arteries has progressed and to further clarify the details of your carotid artery disease.
Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease
Depending on how much blockage is discovered in the carotid artery, your physician may recommend lifestyle adjustments, medication, non-surgical invasive procedures or, as a last resort, carotid artery surgery.
If some narrowing is evident, but the situation is non-threatening our doctors will recommend that the patient stick to a healthy diet, follow a formal exercise plan, and stop smoking, if they smoke. If necessary, medication can be prescribed to keep the disease under control and prevent its progression.
If the patient has been diagnosed with carotid artery disease and has diabetes or high blood pressure, these conditions have to be brought under control, since they are contributing factors to the problem.
If after taking all the measures recommended by our doctors to stop the progression of the disease, the carotid artery continues to narrow, or if it has reached a dangerous level of blockage, minimally-invasive procedures such as balloon angioplasty and stent deployment can be performed to improve blood flow through the carotid artery.
Balloon angioplasty is a type of carotid artery blockage treatment where a balloon catheter is used to widen the narrowed or obstructed artery. During stent deployment (carotid stenting) a wire mesh tube, or stent is placed inside the narrowed artery to keep the artery open for improved blood flow.
TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR)
Using the revolutionary TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) procedure, our board certified vascular surgeons offer the most advanced and safest carotid artery disease treatment available anywhere.
What is TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR)?
During the TCAR procedure, a tube inserted into the carotid artery is connected to a system that temporarily directs blood flow away from the brain to protect against dangerous debris from reaching the brain during the procedure. Any small bits of plaque that may break off during the procedure are diverted away from the brain, preventing a stroke from happening.
Surgeons then filter the blood before returning it to a vein in the groin, and a stent is implanted directly into the carotid artery to stabilize the plaque and prevent future strokes.
How is TCAR better for patients?
TCAR has a very low procedural stroke rate. It is also less invasive than open surgery, so there’s less chance for surgical complications like heart attacks, infection and nerve injury. TCAR patients also recover quickly and almost always go home the next day with less pain and smaller scars.
Who should be considered for the TCAR procedure?
TCAR is recommended for patients who are considered high risk for traditional surgery due to age, anatomic issues and other medical conditions. A physician will determine if the TCAR procedure is right for a patient on a case-by-case basis based on his/her medical history and workup.
What happens during a TCAR procedure?
A small incision is made at the base of the neck, just above the collarbone. A puncture is made into the carotid artery and a small tube is placed inside the artery, which is connected to the system that temporarily directs blood flow away from the brain and captures any dangerous debris that dislodges from the artery. The blood is then filtered and returned to a vein through a second tube placed in the groin. While the brain is protected during this temporary flow reversal, a stent is placed in the carotid artery to stabilize the plaque and is intended to help prevent against future stroke. The blood flow is then returned to normal and the system is removed.
The entire procedure usually takes less than an hour. Patients can be either asleep or awake during the TCAR procedure and patients are typically held overnight for observation.
Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA)
If your vascular surgeon determines that less invasive procedures are not an option, a carotid endarterectomy (CEA) may be performed. During a CEA plaque is actually scraped away and removed from the blocked carotid artery through a small incision in the skin. CEA is a traditional, open surgery.
The Board Certified Vascular Surgeons at The Vein and Vascular Institute of Spring Hill have helped thousands of patients suffering from carotid artery disease, diminishing their risk of having a stroke. We offer innovative therapies and we are equipped with advanced ultrasonic equipment for diagnostic and therapeutic interventions. Our mission is to always provide compassionate and personalized care to all our patients.
If you live in the Spring Hill, Florida area and you think that you are at high risk for carotid artery disease, or if you have experienced any of its symptoms, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with us for a consultation.
Based on your consultation, a vascular screening may be recommended to determine whether or not you have developed any blockage in your carotid artery and if you are in danger of having a stroke. Give us a call today at (352) 505-1737 because your health matters to us.