Carotid Artery Blockage Surgery – When Is It Required?
Carotid arteries on either side of your neck bring blood to the major frontal part of the brain and face. Carotid artery blockage narrows or sometimes totally blocks the artery reducing the supply of blood to the brain. This can result in a stroke or brain attack which occurs when the brain does not receive oxygen rich blood for more than 3 to 6 hours.
There are two types of carotid artery blockage surgeries. The carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is a surgical procedure aims at removing plaque from arties that is responsible for narrowing of the arties. Another new surgery is Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting through which the surgeon opens the artery and places a stent (a small stainless steel tube at the blocked site to keep opened artery from re-closing). This surgery is suggested when the artery has narrowed more than 70% or if narrowing is in between 50% to 70%.
Carotid artery blockage surgery might be necessary when the artery is severely blocked or if your doctor thinks that you have a high risk of having a major stroke. There are usually no blocked artery symptoms until you experience TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or mini stroke. Some of its symptoms include weakness, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, severe headache, difficulty breathing, speaking and swallowing etc. If you have had experienced these symptoms, you should consider consulting a physician immediately as it is observed that the person who experienced TIA is 10 times more likely to have a major stroke. Your doctor might suggest a few tests to decide how clogged arteries in the neck are and suggest appropriate treatment.
Sometimes the patient will not show any carotid artery blockage symptoms but a doctor may hear an abnormal sound called bruit which can probably indicate plaque build up. After testing, if your doctor thinks you have high risk of a major stroke, a surgery for unclogging arteries is suggested.
Depending on your stroke risk factor, your doctor might discuss other treatment options like cholesterol reducing diet and drugs and blood thinning medication. Since there won’t be major symptoms until the arteries narrow severely, it is better to get a physical exam done regularly.