Carotid Problems

The carotid arteries carry blood to the brain. Plaque can collect inside these arteries, causing narrowing (stenosis), and affecting blood flow to the brain. Fragments of plaque and tiny blood clots (emboli) can rupture and then travel to and block smaller arteries in the brain. This can lead to a stroke (sudden loss of brain function) and may be displayed as paralysis, difficulty speaking and trouble doing the simplest of tasks. One warning sign of a stroke is a TIA (transient ischemic attack). It has the same symptoms as a stroke but the symptoms go away within minutes or hours and there is no permanent brain damage. Having had a TIA is a sign that you are at increased risk of a stroke. Prompt treatment for a stroke is vital. Call 911 immediately if you have any of these symptoms: paralysis, weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, loss of vision in one eye, or drooping of one side of the face.

Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT, or MRI can check the arteries.

Carotid endarterectomy is an open surgical procedure to remove plaque from the artery. You may either be put to sleep or, alternatively, your surgeon may choose to keep your neck numb and keep you awake so you can communicate with him during the procedure. Your neck will be shaved and an incision will be made along the crease of your neck on the affected side. The surgeon will then expose the artery and remove the plaque from the inner lining of the artery. Often a patch may be used to widen the artery as part of the procedure. The incision is then closed with suture and /or staples. This procedure takes approximately two hours to perform You may be in the hospital for 1-2 days and may spend time in Intensive Care for close monitoring.