Carotid Artery Stenting: Before Your Procedure
What is carotid artery stenting?
Carotid artery stenting is a procedure to open a narrowed carotid artery. There is a carotid artery on each side of the neck. They supply blood to the brain.
Fatty buildup can narrow these arteries. This buildup is called plaque. When one or both of your carotid arteries are narrowed, it can make it hard for blood to flow to the brain. This buildup also raises your risk of stroke. This procedure may improve blood flow to your brain and lower your risk of having a stroke.
You will get medicine to prevent pain and help you relax. The doctor will put a small tube into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. This tube is called a catheter. The doctor will move it through the blood vessel to your carotid artery. Then the doctor will put dye into the catheter. The dye will make your carotid artery show up on X-ray pictures. This lets the doctor find the narrow section of the artery.
The catheter is used to move a balloon and an expandable tube, called a stent, into the artery. The balloon is placed inside the stent and inflated. This opens the stent and pushes it into place against the artery wall. The balloon is then deflated. The doctor will take out the balloon and catheter from your body. The stent will stay in your artery. After time, the cells lining the blood vessel will grow through and around the stent to help hold it in place.
The procedure usually takes about 1 to 2 hours. You may need to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days after the procedure.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
- Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
- Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
- Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery centre
- Bring a picture ID.
- You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
- The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours.
- After the procedure, pressure may be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This will help prevent bleeding. A small device may also be used to close the blood vessel. The area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device.
- Nurses will check your heart rate and blood pressure. The nurse will also check the catheter site for bleeding.
- You will need to lie still and keep your leg straight for up to a few hours. The nurse may put a weighted bag on your leg to keep it still.
- If the catheter was put in your arm, you may be able to sit up right away. But you may need to keep your arm still for at least 2 hours.
- You may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. This is normal and will go away.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
- You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter H987 in the search box to learn more about "Carotid Artery Stenting: Before Your Procedure".
Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology & Caroline S. Rhoads MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology