The carotid arteries, located on each side of your neck, carry blood to your brain. Carotid artery disease, also called carotid stenosis, develops when fatty deposits build up, causing a condition called atherosclerosis on one or both of your carotid arteries.
Carotid artery blockage can narrow an artery, or block it completely. It can also cause a blood clot to form, which can lead to a stroke.
Patients who experience symptoms related to carotid stenosis can experience:
- Numbness and weakness in one or multiple sides of the face or body.
- Speech and communication problems.
- Blurred vision or sudden loss of vision in one eye.
How do you diagnose carotid stenosis?
There are many imaging techniques used to diagnose carotid stenosis. They include ultrasound. In addition, simple auscultation of the neck with a stethoscope can identify a “bruit” or rushing sound which may indicate carotid stenosis.
At Alhyatt Heart and Vascular center, our highly skilled vascular specialists conduct thorough evaluations of patients to determine the best course of carotid artery blockage treatment.
It can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation. During the procedure, an incision is made in the neck at the site of the carotid artery blockage. The surgeon removes the plaque from the artery and when the plaque removal is complete, the surgeon stitches the vessel closed. Blood flow to the brain is restored through its normal path.
Other cases to treat in the Neuro unit:
Carotid-cavernous fistulas are abnormal connections between the cavernous sinus and the internal carotid artery, external carotid artery, their branches, or both.
Treating a carotid cavernous fistula with embolization involves placing small platinum coils where the abnormal connection is. This separates the blood flow of the carotid arteries from that of the veins.
During the procedure, a small tube is placed through an artery in the groin. The tube is advanced up to the arteries in the neck. Another smaller tube is threaded through the first one. Small platinum coils are delivered to the abnormal connection through the second tube. The coils separate the blood flowing in the arteries from the blood flowing in the veins.
Normally, arteries carry blood containing oxygen from the heart to the brain, and veins carry blood with less oxygen away from the brain and back to the heart. When an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) occurs, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain bypasses normal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins.
Most AVMs are detected with either computed tomography (CT) brain scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan. For any type of treatment involving an AVM, an angiogram may be needed to better identify the type of AVM.
- Medical therapy: If there are no symptoms or almost none.
The main treatment for AVM is surgery. Surgery may be recommended if you’re at a high risk of bleeding. The surgery may completely remove the AVM. This treatment is usually used when the AVM is small and located in an area where surgeons can remove the AVM with little risk of causing significant damage to the brain tissues.
The surgeon threads a catheter through the arteries to the AVM. Then a substance is injected to create an artificial blood clot in the middle of the AVM to temporarily reduce the blood flow. This may also be done before another type of surgery to help reduce the risk of complications.
Also known as abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA)
An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in an artery. Aortic aneurysms are aneurysms that occur in the aorta, the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood to your body. The aorta has thick walls that withstand normal blood pressure. However, certain medical problems can damage or weaken these walls. The force of blood pushing against the weakened or injured walls can cause an aneurysm.
An aortic aneurysm can grow large and either rupture or split. It is life-threatening and requires immediate intervention. However, aortic aneurysms can develop and grow large before causing any symptoms. Doctors may be able to slow the growth of an aortic aneurysm with medicines or repair it with surgery if it is found before it ruptures or dissects.
People who have a family history of stroke are at higher risk for carotid artery disease, and men are more likely to develop it than women. Other risk factors include:
- Advanced age.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Tobacco use.
While carotid artery disease cannot always be avoided, the following steps may help reduce your risk:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Manage stress
- Get regular physical exercise
- Stop smoking
- Limit intake of alcohol
- Strictly manage of high blood pressure, cholesterol
- Prevent or strictly manage diabetes
- Follow a low cholesterol diet