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Endovascular Carotid Stent Placement: Before Your Procedure

What is endovascular carotid stent placement?

Endovascular carotid stent placement is a procedure to open a blocked carotid artery. There are two carotid arteries—one on each side of the neck—that supply blood to the brain. Fatty buildup (plaque) can narrow or block these arteries. When one or both of your carotid arteries are blocked, it can make it hard for blood to flow to the brain. This procedure may improve blood flow to your brain and lower your risk of having a stroke.

Before the procedure you will get medicine to prevent pain and help you relax. The doctor will put a small tube, called a catheter, into a blood vessel in your groin. He or she will move the catheter through the blood vessel to your carotid artery. The doctor will put dye into the catheter. The dye will make your carotid artery show up on X-ray pictures so the doctor can find the blocked section of the artery.

The doctor will put a catheter with a tiny balloon at the tip into your carotid artery. He or she will inflate the balloon. This will stretch the narrowed part of the artery. The doctor will take the balloon out.

Then the doctor will use the catheter to put a small, wire-mesh tube (stent) into the carotid artery. The stent will hold the artery open. The stent also may keep small pieces of plaque from breaking off and causing problems. After the stent is in place, the doctor will take out the catheter. The stent will stay in your artery.

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.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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 aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • 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. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours.
  • After the procedure, pressure will be applied to the area where the catheter was put in your blood vessel. Then the area may be covered with a bandage or a compression device. This will prevent bleeding.
  • 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 several hours. The nurse may put a weighted bag on your leg to keep it still.
  • 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?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.