Carotid Artery Procedures

Carotid artery disease, which is a narrowing or hardening of the arteries that carry blood to the brain and head, increases your risk for life-threatening strokes. This narrowing is caused by carotid plaque, which is made up of fatty deposits that build up over time. At the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute (CVI), we use less invasive procedures to treat carotid artery disease and lower your stroke risk.

Carotid artery hardening and blockage treatment

Carotid artery disease occurs when the arteries that provide oxygen-rich blood to your brain are clogged with fatty deposits. These deposits can build up in your arteries and cause carotid atherosclerosis. When the artery is completely blocked, also referred to as carotid artery occlusion, patients are at high risk for stroke.

AHN cardiologists and vascular surgeons are experts at providing the following carotid artery disease treatments:

Medication management

Blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and cholesterol-lowering drugs can decrease your risk for stroke.

Carotid artery surgery

Blocked carotid artery surgery is performed to restore blood flow to the brain. There are two procedures used to treat a blocked carotid artery: carotid endarterectomy and angioplasty with stent placement.

Transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR)

AHN physicians are regional leaders in TCAR, a clinically proven, minimally invasive procedure during which a stent is placed in the carotid artery via a small neck incision. Unlike traditional carotid stenting, TCAR is unique in that blood flow is temporarily reversed during the procedure so that any bits of plaque that may break off are diverted away from the brain.

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA surgery)

This procedure is used as carotid artery cleaning, or a surgical removal of plaque buildup. Your physician surgically removes plaque, made up of cholesterol and fatty deposits, via an incision in the neck. Your physician also removes diseased portions of the carotid arteries.

Angioplasty with stenting

During this procedure, your physician threads a catheter (small, hollow tube) with a balloon on its tip through the femoral artery in the groin. Your physician inflates the balloon to widen the narrowed artery and places a permanent stent (small mesh coil) to keep the artery open. You may undergo this procedure if health problems or other factors make open surgery too risky.

What to expect

After carotid artery surgery, you’ll need to spend the night in the hospital for monitoring. Recovery time will vary for each patient. You can expect some soreness, numbness, and swelling in your neck. It may also be difficult to swallow for a few days. You may be prescribed pain medication to help with any symptoms. You’ll be asked to avoid heavy lifting, driving, and any strenuous activity for one to two weeks.

Is carotid artery surgery dangerous? There is a risk associated with any surgery; however, carotid surgery can greatly reduce your risk of stroke and is considered reasonably safe. Other diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, can complicate your surgical procedure.

Contact us

No referral

If you do not have a referral for a carotid artery procedure, call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 to schedule an appointment with a general cardiologist to be evaluated if this kind of procedure is needed.

Scheduling a procedure

If you have a referral for a carotid artery procedure, call (412) NURSE-4-U (412) 687-7348 to schedule your procedure.