Carotid Artery Stenting

What is it?

Carotid arteries are located on each side of the neck and bring necessary blood to the face and brain. A carotid artery can be partially or totally obstructed by fatty deposits called plaque. Obstructions in the carotid artery can cause stroke as sufficient amounts of blood cannot reach the brain.

What is it for?

To open narrowed carotid arteries. Carotid arteries are the main blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the brain. Narrow or blocked carotid arteries decrease blood flow or completely stop blood flow to the brain.

How to prepare

  • Be ready to give your doctor your complete medical history
  • Notify your doctor of all medications you are taking
  • Notify your doctor of any allergies
  • Notify your doctor of any bleeding disorders and any medications you take that affect blood clotting
  • You will be given instructions about what to eat and drink prior to the procedure
  • Your doctor may perform a physical and do a test to determine how fast your blood clots
  • This procedure often requires a hospital stay


  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Loss of certain functions of eyes, nose, tongue or ears
  • Bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Infection
  • Hypertension
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Airway blockages
  • Tissue overgrowth where stent is placed

What happens during?

  • Carotid artery stenting is usually performed under local anesthesia. You will not feel the area where the operation is happening. You’ll be awake but feel groggy during the procedure. Sedation is usually through I.V. lines.
  • The doctor will make a small incision in a blood vessel in your groin. A long, thin wire is inserted into the incision. The wire is used as a guide during the procedure.
  • A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is placed over the wire. The catheter is threaded into the artery and moved to the blockage in the neck by the use of X-rays. With the use of another catheter, a balloon expands the artery and restores proper blood flow to the brain. A stent, a mesh or wire tube, expands the balloon and keeps the artery open permanently.
  • The doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheters
  • The doctor closes and bandages the incision site in the groin

What happens after?

  • You will spend several hours in a recovery room
  • Your vital signs will be monitored and you’ll receive pain medication if necessary in the recovery room
  • Before going home, you many receive prescriptions for medicines to prevent blood clots or spasms of the blood vessels
  • You’ll be given instructions about rest, medicine, exercise and wound care

Side effects

Upon returning home, contact your doctor or go to the emergency room if you have:

  • Fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling or bleeding near the incision site
  • Pain near the incision site
  • Chest pain