Carotid Artery Problems: Surgery for TIAs

Cross section of carotid artery showing plaque buildup. You have narrowing of a blood vessel or carotid artery in your neck. It is caused by a substance called plaque that has built up in your artery. This can cause a transient ischemic attack or TIA. During a TIA, narrowing in the artery blocks blood to your brain for a short time. Fortunately, the damage to the brain is not permanent and symptoms resolve within 24 hours. However, a TIA is a warning that a stroke may happen in the near future. You and your doctor will discuss the best course of treatment for you.

Your treatment plan

The need for surgery depends on your symptoms. It also depends on how narrow your carotid artery is. If you have mild narrowing but have TIAs, you may need surgery. If you have severe narrowing and no TIAs, you may need surgery. This is because your risk of stroke may be high.

If surgery is needed, you will have a carotid endarterectomy. The surgery removes plaque from inside of your carotid artery. The inside of your carotid artery is made wider and smoother. This reduces the chance of having a stroke.