For the last 50 years, a diagnosis of narrowing in the carotid arteries (the arteries in the neck that carry blood to the brain) would most likely result in a recommendation of surgery, called a carotid endarterectomy, to prevent a first or recurrent stroke . During the surgery, artery-clogging plaque—a fatty substance made up of cholesterol, calcium, and other substances—is removed from the carotid arteries after making an incision to open up the vessel. A carotid endarterectomy is still a viable and life-saving procedure that is performed today. However, now more than ever, physicians have options for tailoring carotid artery disease treatment to the patient.
The last 20 years have seen the emergence of carotid angioplasty and stenting, a minimally invasive treatment option that involves using a thin tube called a catheter to reopen the blocked artery. In addition, new and improved medications have also made it possible to treat the build-up of plaque in the arteries and to dissolve blood clots that can cause a stroke.
Today, physicians can recommend individualized treatment based on the degree of narrowing in the arteries, the age of the patient, and other factors to determine the best course of treatment.
To learn more about each of these treatment options, click on the following links: