Intracranial atherosclerotic disease is the progressive narrowing of the cerebral arteries within the skull (intracranial). The arteries that supply oxygen-enriched blood to the brain are the carotid arteries and the vertebral arteries. The circle of Willis is the area at the base of the brain that joins these arteries.
Stenosis (narrowing) of the artery walls in intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) develops similarly to atherosclerosis of the heart: from the buildup of plaque, also known as an atherosclerotic lesion.
Causes and Symptoms of Intracranial Atherosclerotic Disease
Preventable risks of developing the vascular disease are also similar to heart disease:
high blood pressure
ICAD is often asymptomatic for years, and when it does present symptoms, it can be during a life-altering event such as an ischemic stroke (loss of blood supply to the brain), brain hemorrhage or death.
These intracranial atherosclerotic disease symptoms require immediate medical help:
a severe headache (with no known cause)
numbness or weakness, often on only one side of the face or body
balance and coordination issues
confusion or dizziness
loss of consciousness
How Is Intracranial Atherosclerotic Disease Diagnosed?
Your physician can evaluate your risk for intracranial atherosclerotic disease (ICAD) and determine if brain imaging such as an MRI is needed.
If you do have ICAD and need a surgical procedure, a cerebral angiography will help your neurosurgeon determine the best site for treatment.
Your doctor can recommend lifestyle adjustments to lower the risk of a major stroke. Medications may be prescribed to lower your blood pressure and reduce the cholesterol in your blood. Other medications such as anticoagulants and antiplatelets may also be prescribed.
Superb Surgical Treatments for Intracranial Atherosclerotic Disease
Neurological Surgery, P.C. (NSPC) is a private practice of premier physicians, with neurosurgeons who specialize in cerebrovascular and endovascular conditions, including intracranial atherosclerotic disease, brain aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVM).
Endovascular therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that treats ICAD from inside the blood vessel. During a balloon angioplasty and stenting procedure, a tiny catheter is inserted into a groin artery and threaded up past the narrowed intracranial artery. A stent is then guided into position at the blockage and a balloon is inflated to dilate the stent. The catheter and balloon is retracted, leaving the stent in place to keep the artery open and improve blood flow.
Cerebral bypass surgery is a more invasive procedure that revascularizes (reestablishes blood flow) the brain. An external carotid artery, such as the superficial temporal artery that is over the skull, is attached to a cortical branch of the middle cerebral artery. This neurosurgical procedure is sometimes called the ECA/MCA (external carotid artery to middle cerebral artery) or the STA/MCA (superficial temporal artery to the middle cerebral artery.)
Located in the New York tri-state area, NSPC has convenient offices on Long Island, in NYC and surrounding areas to provide you with premier ICAD treatment and care.