Stenting for Carotid Artery Disease

UC San Diego Comprehensive Stroke CenterCarotid stenting is used to open narrowed carotid arteries in the neck. This procedure is similar to coronary angioplasty, which is commonly used to open blocked arteries in the heart.

UC San Diego Health System was the first in the San Diego region to use the FDA-approved carotid stent for treatment of people who have severe carotid artery narrowing and a high risk of complications from surgery.

How Carotid Stenting is Performed

During carotid stenting, a catheter is inserted through a large artery—most often the femoral artery in the groin—and threaded through other arteries to the carotid artery. Carotid stenting involves using a specially designed guide wire with a filter and placing it beyond the area of narrowing in the carotid artery.

Once the guide wire is in place, a small balloon is inflated for a few seconds to dilate the artery. After that, the stent (a small titanium mesh tube that acts as a scaffold to provide support inside the artery) is placed in the artery and opened to fit the size of the artery.

The filter that is attached to the guide wire is used to capture any particles that are released and prevent them from traveling to the brain and causing a stroke.

A second balloon inflation is done to make sure the stent is completely expanded in the carotid artery. The stent stays in place permanently and within a few weeks following the procedure, the artery heals around the stent.

Carotid artery stenting can be as effective as carotid endarterectomy in preventing stroke, heart attack and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).