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Stroke

Carotid Artery Stenting

Approximately 25% of strokes are caused by carotid artery disease from atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the brain. Eventually, the artery narrows, blood flow is decreased, and the risk of stroke is increased.

Carotid artery stenting is a new therapy used for treating blockages in the carotid artery, the main blood vessel that supplies oxygen and blood to the brain, thus assisting in the prevention of stroke. This distal protection device helps prevent debris from going to the brain and causing a stroke.

A stroke can occur if the carotid artery becomes blocked, a piece of plaque breaks off and travels to smaller arteries of the brain, or a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery. Ultimately, a stroke occurs when brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and glucose carried to them by blood.

Blockages in the carotid artery are traditionally treated with a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy, in which surgeons made an incision in the neck artery to remove the plaque and diseased portions of the artery. The artery is then sewn back together to allow blood flow to the brain.

The new stent system is inserted during angioplasty, a less invasive procedure than endarterectomy in which, via a catheter inserted into the groin, the stent is threaded up to the neck. A tiny umbrella-like filter is used to catch and remove loose pieces of plaque that develop during the stenting procedure before they travel to the brain and create a stroke.

This new carotid stent system is one of several FDA-approved systems currently available for the prevention of stroke for patients who are at high risk for carotid endarterectomy. The stent opens the narrowing in the carotid neck artery, again to prevent a stroke.

This article is based on information provided by The Ohio State University Medical Center Media Relations Office and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2007.

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Last Reviewed: Apr 02, 2009

Jean  E Starr, MD Jean E Starr, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Vascular Surgery
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University