Carotid Artery Interventions
Help reduce your risk of stroke by getting treatment for blockages in your carotid arteries—blood vessels in your neck that supply blood to the brain. Trust UNC REX Healthcare’s vascular specialists to provide the best care for your situation—whether you need medication, angioplasty and stenting, or surgery.
Carotid Angioplasty & Stenting
During an angioplasty, a doctor inserts a tiny, uninflated balloon into an artery in your groin area and pushes it up to the blocked carotid artery. There, the balloon inflates and packs the plaque against the artery wall to expand space for blood flow. Then, the physician pushes a metal-mesh tube called a stent up to the carotid artery to keep the blood vessel open. The doctor withdraws the balloon, but leaves the stent in place.
For a carotid endarterectomy, a vascular surgeon makes a small incision next to the blocked artery. He or she may insert a piece of tubing called a shunt, which provides a detour for blood to flow around the artery during surgery. The surgeon then opens the artery, removes plaque, stitches the artery closed and removes the shunt.
Preparing for Your Procedure
You may need to take aspirin for three to five days before your procedure to thin the blood and stop other clots from forming. On the day of the angioplasty or endarterectomy, you may be told not to eat or drink for a certain amount of time.
Ask your doctor whether you need to temporarily stop taking some medications, vitamins or supplements.
Depending on your procedure, you may stay in the hospital for up to two days after treatment. Follow your care team’s instructions on limiting physical activity after discharge, and ask your doctor about follow-up appointments to check on your health.
After an angioplasty, you’ll likely receive a prescription for blood-thinning medications to help prevent blood clots from forming. Take this medication for as long as your doctor recommends.