What is it? Carotid angioplasty is a procedure used to open clogged arteries to prevent or treat stroke. The procedure involves temporarily inserting and inflating a tiny balloon that widens the clogged area of the carotid artery. The procedure is typically combined with the placement of a small metal stent to help prop the artery open and lessen the chance of it narrowing again.
What happens during the procedure? An IV will be started to administer fluids and medication that will ensure your comfort and relaxation throughout the procedure. Your groin area will be cleansed and a local anesthetic will be injected to numb the area. A small incision will be made into an artery in the groin area and a catheter will be inserted using X-ray guidance. To provide a detailed view of the narrowed artery and blood flow to the brain, contrast material is injected through the catheter. An umbrella-shaped filter is then inserted beyond the narrowing to catch any debris that may break off from the narrowed area of the artery during the procedure. The balloon is inserted into the narrowed area and inflated to push the plaque to the side and widen the vessel. A small metal mesh stent is placed into the newly opened vessel and expanded to serve as a scaffold that helps prevent the artery from narrowing again. After the filter and catheter are removed, pressure is applied to the insertion site to prevent bleeding and you will be taken to a recovery room.
Preparing for the Procedure:
- Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what you can or cannot eat or drink before your angioplasty.
- Check with your doctor for any instructions about adjusting your current medications, you may be required to stop taking certain diabetes medications or blood thinners.
- Take your approved medications with only small sips of water.
- Typically a patient will stay overnight at the hospital following a carotid angioplasty. You will need to arrange a ride home the next day, as you will still be unable to drive.