Also known as:
Carotid artery stenting is a procedure that can be used to open narrowed carotid arteries. This procedure is much like coronary angioplasty, which is commonly used to open blocked arteries in the heart. Its use in carotid arteries is growing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its use in the treatment of people who have severe carotid artery narrowing and a high risk of complications from surgery. It is performed at large, specialized medical centers. During this procedure, a tube (catheter) is inserted through a large artery—most often the femoral artery in the groin—and threaded through other arteries to the carotid artery. After the catheter reaches the narrowed portion of the carotid artery, a small balloon at the end of the tube is inflated for a short period of time. The pressure from the inflated balloon presses the plaque against the wall of the artery to improve blood flow. A stent (a metal tube) is placed in the artery to keep the plaque from tearing open and to keep the artery from closing. New crush-resistant stents with filters to catch clots have been developed. These new stents have solved problems seen with earlier stents.