Carotid angioplasty is basically a surgical procedure which is designed to open clogged arteries so as to treat or prevent strokes. Carotid arteries are located on either sides of the neck & are the main arteries which supply blood to the brain. In order to widen clogged arteries, this procedure temporarily involves inserting & inflating a tiny balloon at the site where carotid artery requires treatment. Most often, carotid angioplasty is combined with placement of small metal coils known as stents within the clogged arteries. These stents help prop open the carotid artery & thereby decrease chances of arteries narrowing once again. Carotid angioplasty & stent placement may be ideally used for patients where traditional carotid surgery is either too risky or not feasible.
Carotid angioplasty & stent placement procedure may be an appropriate solution for treatment & prevention of strokes in the following conditions.
However, in some cases of carotid endarterectomy or traditional carotid surgery doctors may advise removal of buildup of fatty material (plaques) which is narrowing the artery. But then, in most other cases carotid angioplasty & stent placement may be the better option.
Like with other types of surgical procedures, complications are also found to occur with carotid angioplasty. Following is a list of some common types of complications which are associated with carotid angioplasty & stent placement.
Doctors will review the patient’s medical history & perform a physical examination before a scheduled carotid angioplasty procedure. Patients may also have to undergo one or more of the following examinations before going in for carotid angioplasty & stent placement procedure.
Patients will receive instructions from the healthcare team as to what can or cannot be eaten or drunk prior to carotid angioplasty procedure. Preparation of patients for this procedure may differ in case they are already staying at the hospital facility prior to the carotid angioplasty procedure.
Carotid angioplasty procedure is often considered a nonsurgical treatment procedure since it is less invasive than the traditional method of surgery. Carotid angioplasty does not cut open except for a very small cut in blood vessel in the groin region. Moreover, general anesthesia is also not required & therefore patients will remain awake during this procedure. However, they will receive fluids & medications through an intravenous (IV) catheter so as to help relaxation.
Surgeons will make a puncture in an artery, which is usually the femoral artery in the groin area, after the patient is sedated. Following steps effectively describe the carotid angioplasty & stent placement procedure.
In order to avoid bleeding from the incision site through which the catheter is inserted, patients will need to lie down relatively still for several hours, either in the hospital room or the recovery area. Carotid angioplasty patients may also receive an ultrasound of the carotid artery after the procedure. However, most patients are discharged from the hospital within 24 hours following carotid angioplasty. Catheter insertion site may often remain swollen, tender & bruised for a few days. Moreover, there may also be a small lump or small area of discoloration in the region of the puncture. Patients can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) in recommended doses as required for discomfort or any other medication which is prescribed by the doctor. Nevertheless, carotid angioplasty patients will need to strictly avoid strenuous activity & heavy lifting of loads for at least up to 24 hours of time following carotid angioplasty procedure.
Carotid angioplasty & stent placement for most people will invariably increase blood flowing through the previously blocked carotid artery & thereby effectively reduce the amount of risk and/or symptoms of stroke. Nevertheless, patients must seek emergency medical care in case their signs & symptoms return including having trouble speaking or walking, numbness on one side of the body, or other symptoms which are similar to those that they used to have before undergoing this procedure. However, carotid angioplasty & stent placement are not appropriate treatment procedures for everyone. Doctors alone can determine if benefits of carotid angioplasty outweigh the potential risks which are involved. Long-term results of this procedure are still under investigation since carotid angioplasty is newer than the traditional carotid surgery. It would therefore be sensible for patients to talk to doctors about the kind of results they can expect & on the type of follow-up care which is required after undergoing this procedure.
Lifestyle changes including the following will eventually help carotid angioplasty patients maintain good results.
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