Carotid stenosis is the narrowing (stenosis) of the main blood vessels in the neck (carotid arteries) that deliver oxygen-rich blood to the brain (internal carotid arteries) and to the neck, face and scalp (external carotid arteries). Left untreated, carotid stenosis can lead to a stroke with long-term brain damage.
Causes and Symptoms of Carotid Stenosis
Also called carotid artery disease, carotid stenosis is caused by the accumulation of plaque along the artery walls (atherosclerosis). These deposits are created by fat, cell wastes, cholesterol and other material that cling to the inside surface of the artery.
Certain risk factors increase your chance of developing carotid artery disease:
an inactive lifestyle,
high blood pressure,
a high saturated fat diet,
hyperlipidemia (high amount of lipids or fats in blood),
a family history of atherosclerosis,
and older age.
Carotid stenosis often does not have any symptoms. But when it does, the signs are associated with either a transient ischemic attack (sometimes called a mini-stroke) or a stroke:
blurry vision or vision loss in one or both eyes
weakness or numbness on one side of the face or body
loss of coordination
If you or someone you know are experiencing these stroke symptoms, get emergency medical help right away.
A transient ischemic attack is a temporary (transient) loss of adequate blood flow to an area (ischemic).
How is Carotid Stenosis Diagnosed?
Your general practitioner may be able listen to the blood flow in your carotid artery with a stethoscope and hear a bruit, a whooshing sound caused by blood circulating through a narrowed blood vessel.
Along with your medical history and a physical exam, your doctor may order imaging tests help give an accurate diagnosis:
Carotid Ultrasound — sonography that uses sound waves to create an image of vascular blood flow.
Angiography — x-rays of your blood vessels.
Computerized Tomography — a form of radiologic imaging to create image slices.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) — noninvasive type of angiography that uses magnetic fields and radio waves, and often contrast dyes.
Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA) — uses a contrast dye along with a CT scan to view the blood flow through your blood vessels.
Cutting-edge Treatments for Carotid Stenosis at NSPC
Located in the NY tri-state area, Neurological Surgery, P.C. (NSPC) has cerebrovascular and endovascular specialists experienced in surgically treating conditions such as carotid artery disease.
Our vascular specialists are experts in carotid stenosis surgeries:
Carotid Endarterectomy is a traditional surgery to remove the plaque in a carotid artery. A small incision is made in the neck at the blocked or narrowed artery. The surgeon removes the plaque from the lining of the artery, and the vessel is stitched closed.
Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting is a minimally invasive procedure to reduce the risk of stroke from carotid stenosis:
For this FDA-approved procedure, a tiny catheter (small flexible tube) is carefully threaded up from the artery in the leg to the carotid artery.
A balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated at the site of the stenosis.
An embolic protection device is in place to strain any pieces of plaque that may dislodge, to prevent them from traveling up the artery to the brain.
A stent (a mesh cylinder) is put in place to strengthen the artery wall and to keep it open.
With less blood loss than traditional surgery, recovery time is usually faster.
NSPC has a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons skilled at employing the most up-to-date procedures to treat carotid stenosis. We have offices conveniently located on Long Island and in the NYC metro region, along with New York’s Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties.