At WVU Medicine, our expert physicians provide advanced, minimally invasive care for carotid artery disease.

The carotid artery is the main source of blood into the brain. If this blood flow is reduced because of plaque (fatty deposits) in the carotid artery, it can cause a stroke. Strokes can also be caused by blood clots that break off from the carotid artery wall and travel into the brain. To prevent these life-threatening strokes, our neurointerventional specialists offer leading edge carotid artery disease treatments.

These minimally invasive treatments help patients recover faster from procedures than traditional open vascular procedures. These procedures may also lower the risk for pain, bleeding, and infection compared to open procedures. At WVU Medicine, we strive to provide advanced care that helps each patient experience the best outcome possible.

Innovative Carotid Artery Disease Treatment Options

At WVU Medicine, we personalize treatment to each patient based on several factors, including:

  • Severity of condition
  • Overall health
  • Any previous strokes

We use the latest evidence-based techniques to deliver the care that is best for each individual patient.

Using advanced imaging techniques, our experienced physicians create a treatment plan to open the carotid artery and reduce the risk for strokes. Our neurointerventional radiologists work with neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, cardiologists, and other specialists to help each patient achieve better health.

Carotid angioplasty and stenting

WVU Medicine neurointerventional radiologists perform carotid angioplasty and stenting to remove blockages and widen the carotid artery. During this procedure, the physician makes a small incision in the patient’s groin. Using advanced X-ray guidance, the physician guides a catheter through the artery in the groin and up into the carotid artery.

Once in the carotid artery, the physician can place specialized tools through the catheter. The physician may inflate a small balloon to press plaque against the walls of the artery, widening the artery for better blood flow. The physician may also place a wire mesh tube called a stent into the artery to hold it open.

Patients with moderate to severe carotid artery disease can be helped with these procedures. These techniques are especially beneficial to patients facing other complex health conditions who cannot undergo major open surgeries.

Carotid endarterectomy

For more severe carotid artery disease, patients may require an open procedure called carotid endarterectomy. During this procedure, an expert vascular surgeon will open affected part of the carotid artery in the neck. The surgeon will place a catheter to allow blood to continue to flow around the carotid artery during the surgery.

The surgeon then removes all the plaque from the walls of the artery. Once the plaque is removed, the surgeon repairs the artery with stitches or by sewing on part of a blood vessel from a different part of the body.

This procedure has a longer recovery time than carotid angioplasty, but still provides safe and effective treatment for carotid artery disease. The patient’s heart rate will be carefully monitored after surgery and until the artery is fully healed.