The Carotid arteries are the pair of blood vessels located on each side of the neck that carries the blood from the heart to the head, face and brain.
In a diseased carotid artery, there is a narrowing of the passage of blood due to atherosclerosis or cholesterol deposition on the inner surface of the artery.
A diseased left Carotid artery causing narrowing in the passage of blood flow to the brain
As the cholesterol deposition increases, the inner surface of the artery becomes rough and irregular and this cholesterol along with bad fatty material builds up a layer called as a PLAQUE inside the artery.
Small pieces of plaque or blood clots formed in the diseased segment can then break off and travel to the brain, blocking blood flow to a portion of the brain.
In later stages, the artery may get completely blocked, resulting in a total cut-off of blood supply to half portion of the brain. The affected part of the brain becomes permanently damaged, and the function performed by that portion of the brain is completely lost.
A blood clot or Emboli travels to the brain and causes permanent damage to a portion of the brain.
This condition is known as a STROKE or a BRAIN ATTACK. It leads to complete loss of movements (Paralysis) of one side of the body and face or may damage the vision and speech, depending upon the area of the brain affected.
A less severe form of brain attack is called a mini-stroke, or a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This occurs due to transient (within seconds) blockage of blood to a portion of the brain that results in specific warning signs (such as transient loss of vision, loss of voice, fall on the floor, or weakness of hands/legs)
Although symptoms of a mini-stroke resolve quickly, they are an important sign that a patient is at high risk to develop a full-blown stroke and paralysis, if the carotid artery disease is not treated within a good time.
Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease depends on the severity of narrowing in the artery and symptoms of the patient. A Neurologist is a specialist for Medical treatment of Carotid Artery disease, but advanced stages of the disease, which cannot be cured by medicines need specialised treatment by a Vascular Surgeon.
Vascular Surgery for Carotid Artery Disease is called as a Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA), which involves removal of the plaque by performing a surgery on the neck and opening up the artery. Following surgery, the inner wall of the artery becomes smooth again and blood flow through the artery becomes normal.
Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) Surgery
Plaques extracted from the Carotid arteries following Carotid Endarterectomy
In selected patients, Balloon Angioplasty and Stenting of the Carotid artery (CES) is done to control the disease and improve blood circulation to the brain.
Carotid Artery Stenting (CES)
The risk of stroke or Brain Attack is considerably reduced following Carotid Artery Stenting or Surgery, hence it is known as the "Stroke Prevention Surgery"