Cerebrovascular (Carotid Artery)

Michael N. Tameo, M.D.
Ronald L. Nath, M.D. , F.A.C.S.

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Cerebrovascular diseaseCarotid artery disease includes stenosis (narrowing), occlusion, or dissection of the carotid arteries, which can cause stroke or mini-stroke (known as TIA for transient ischemic attack).
Stroke or TIA occurs from stenosis when a piece of the atherosclerotic (cholesterol) plaque that causes the stenosis breaks off (now called an embolus) and travels up to the brain where is occludes an artery that supplies a particular part of the brain. The resulting symptoms depend on the size of the embolus that traveled up, or ‘embolized’, and the location within the brain that was affected. The embolus can also travel to the artery that supplies the eye, rather than the brain, and cause visual defects.

Management of carotid disease often requires close surveillance with periodic ultrasounds, which we perform at our office in our accredited non-invasive vascular lab. Patients can receive the required test and be seen by their vascular surgeon at the same visit. Occasionally, a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study is required.

Treatment of symptomatic or severe asymptomatic carotid stenosis requires a surgery known as carotid endarterectomy. This procedure involves surgically removing the plaque from within the artery to prevent future stroke or TIA.