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Game Changing Technology for Stroke Prevention

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Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque builds up in one or two of the main arteries that come directly from the heart and provides blood to the brain. If left untreated, this build-up can slow blood flow or dislodge and travel through the artery to the brain, causing a potentially disabling stroke. Carotid artery disease is estimated to be the source of stroke in up to a third of cases.

Some individuals can manage carotid artery disease with medications and lifestyle changes. However, more severe cases may require surgery to repair the blockage in the artery. Traditional treatment options such as carotid endarterectomy (CEA, an open surgery) or carotid artery stenting have been shown to treat the blockage effectively. However, both options have limitations and carry a risk of stroke during the procedures themselves.

Shannon is among the first hospitals in the West Texas region to offer an innovative technology called TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) to treat patients with carotid artery disease who are at risk for traditional open surgery.

Like CEA, the TCAR procedure involves direct access to the carotid artery, but through a much smaller incision just above the clavicle instead of a longer incision along the entire neck – creating just enough room to place a stent directly into the carotid artery to stabilize the blockage and help prevent future strokes.

While CEA is recognized as a safe, effective surgery, it’s still a fairly major surgery that typically takes a couple of hours and usually requires general anesthesia. TCAR is an important option in the fight against stroke, and is particularly suited for the large portion of patients who are at higher risk of complications from carotid surgery due to age, other medical conditions, or anatomic issues.

To protect patients from a stroke during the procedure, a tube inserted into the carotid artery is connected to a system that temporarily directs blood flow away from the brain – ensuring any dangerous debris that dislodges from the artery won’t reach the brain during the procedure. Any material is captured in a filter outside the body, and surgeons filter the blood before returning it through a vein in the groin. The stent is placed in the artery while the brain is protected during this temporary flow reversal. The entire procedure is performed in less than half the time of CEA – limiting the stress on the heart and reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack. And since it’s less invasive, patients who undergo the TCAR procedure recover quickly and almost always go home the next day with less pain and smaller scars.

For more information about TransCarotid Artery Revascularization or to determine if the procedure is right for you, please call Shannon Clinic General and Vascular Surgery at 325-747-2344.