Endovascular Carotid Stent Placement: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Endovascular carotid stent placement is a procedure to open a narrowed 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 narrowed, 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.

Your groin may have a bruise or a small lump where the catheter was put in (catheter site). The area may feel sore and the bruise may get bigger for a few days after the procedure. You can do light activities around the house but nothing strenuous for 1 to 2 weeks.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Try not to walk up stairs for the first couple of days. This will help the catheter site heal.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for 2 weeks or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • For 1 to 2 weeks, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take 1 to 2 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • For 2 days after you go home, do not take baths. Showers are okay.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can have sex again.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Your doctor will probably prescribe a blood thinner when you go home. This helps prevent blood clots. Be sure you get instructions about how to take your medicine safely. Blood thinners can cause serious bleeding problems.

Care of the catheter site

  • For 1 day or for as long as your doctor recommends, keep a bandage over the spot where the doctor put in the catheter.

Ice

  • You may want to put ice or a cold pack on the catheter site for 10 to 15 minutes at a time to help with soreness or swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

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.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
  • Your groin is very swollen and you have a lump that is getting bigger under your skin where the catheter was put in.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain in your leg, or it becomes cold, pale, blue, tingly, or numb.
  • You are bleeding from the catheter site.
  • You have a fast-growing, painful lump at the catheter site.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness of the skin.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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