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Carotid Artery Disease

What is Carotid Artery Disease?

The carotid arteries lie on both sides of the neck and travel into the skull, bringing blood to the brain. Cholesterol and calcium-laden plaque can build up in these arteries, leading to obstruction of blood flow to the brain. More importantly, pieces of these plaques can break free, causing blockage of arteries within the brain, causing a stroke. If a very tiny artery is blocked off, or if the plaque in this artery dissolves, the symptoms may be temporary, known as a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. Symptoms can include numbness or tingling on one side of the face or arm or leg. There can be associated weakness or paralysis on one side of the body or face. Some patients have the sensation of a black curtain falling over one eye, causing blindness. Sometimes, victims lose the ability to speak or slur their words. The surgical treatment for this condition involves either local or general anesthesia.

Treatment Options

Carotid Endarterectomy Procedure

While the patient is under anesthesia, surgeons make an incision in the neck, at the location of the blockage. A tube is inserted above and below the blockage to reroute blood flow. Surgeons can then open up the carotid artery and remove the plaque. Once the artery is stitched closed, the tube is removed. The surgeon may also use an alternate technique that does not require blood flow to be rerouted. In this procedure, the surgeon stops the blood flow just long enough to peel the blockage away from the artery. Endarterectomy surgery is a treatment that has been proven safe and effective in providing long-term benefits to patients.