Carotid Angioplasty is a surgical procedure, wherein clogged arteries are opened for prevention or for treatment of stroke. The arteries that are operated are called as carotid arteries and they are located on each side of the neck and they are responsible for supplying blood to the brain. During this procedure, temporary insertion and inflation of tiny balloon is done by the surgeon in the place, where the artery is clogged for widening the artery.
Placement of stent:
Carotid angioplasty is generally combined with the placement of a small metal coil known as stent in the clogged artery. This stent will help in providing support to the artery in keeping it open, thereby reducing the chances of its narrowing again. Generally, stent procedure is suggested along with carotid angioplasty in patients, where the traditional surgical procedure is not feasible or is risky.
Why is this surgery done?
Carotid angioplasty and stenting can be the right treatment in the following cases:
• When a patient has carotid artery with a 70% of blockage or more, particularly if the patient had a stroke or symptoms associated with stroke and when the patient is not at good enough strength to withstand an open surgery. For instance, if the patient had severe lung or heart disease or when the patient had underwent radiation for neck tumors.
• When the patient had already underwent a carotid surgery under open surgical method and when he is experiencing a new narrowing after the surgical procedure.
• When the location of the narrowing stenosis is hard to access with open surgery.
In some cases, traditional carotid surgical method may be suggested for removal of building up plaques that has begun to narrow the artery. When it comes to other cases, angioplasty and stenting can be the ideal option.
What are the risks associated with carotid angioplasty?
Like any other surgical procedures, some complications may occur. Some of the complications that are connected with this modern surgical procedure include:
Stroke or ministroke: During this surgical procedure, blood clots that may form on the catheters can break and can travel to the brain and for reducing this risk, blood thinners are given to the patient. A stroke can also occur if fatty materials in the artery are dislodged when the catheters are threaded through blood vessels.
New narrowing in the carotid artery: A major setback of this procedure is the chance that the artery of the patient will re-narrow within a few months of the procedure. However, to reduce this risk stents are now being used.
Blood clots: Even weeks or months after angioplasty, blood clots can form within stents. These clots can increase the chances of stroke. However, to decrease the chances of clots, the doctor will prescribe some medications that should be strictly used as per the recommendation of the doctor.
Bleeding: There are chances of bleeding in the site in the leg from where catheters were inserted during the procedure. Generally, this will result in discoloration, but in some patients, serious bleeding may occur, wherein blood transfusion may become important.