What is carotid stenting?
Carotid stenting is a less invasive procedure approved by the FDA in 2004 to prevent blocked-vessel (ischemic) stroke in women with blockages of the carotid arteries in the neck. Like angioplasty and stenting for coronary artery disease, the procedure uses a long, thin tube called a catheter that is inserted through an artery in your groin or arm and guided up through your arteries to the location of the blockage. A tiny wire mesh tube is expanded and left in the artery to prop it open and allow blood to flow freely. The procedure is generally done with local anesthesia only, and most patients are able to go home and return to their normal activities on the following day.
Carotid stenting is a newer alternative to the gold standard for patients with carotid artery disease, carotid endarterectomy.
Angiogram image of a narrowed carotid artery before (A) and after stenting (B).
Can stenting be used to open blocked arteries other than the carotid arteries?
Doctors are investigating using stents to prop open blocked vessels inside the brain. Early results are encouraging, and the stents seem to improve short-term blood flow, but the long-term benefits and risks are not yet fully known. For now, using stents in vessels inside the brain should not be performed outside of clinical trials.