Patients with carotid or vertebral artery disease may benefit from carotid or vertebral angioplasty and stenting. This alternative procedure pushes the plaque against the walls of the arteries, widening the pathway for the blood. It is performed using local anesthesia. Stenting may be the best option for those with certain features (of the arteries) that would make surgery difficult.
During carotid or vertebral angioplasty, also called balloon angioplasty, the Neuro Interventional Radiologist makes a tiny incision in the femoral artery. The physician then advances a catheter to the blockage in the artery. A filter is used (past the area of the blockage) to prevent any pieces of plaque from breaking off and traveling to the brain during the procedure. A tiny balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated, pushing plaque to the sides of the arterial walls. The Neuro Interventional Radiologist inserts a small metallic mesh tube called a stent into the artery, which opens it. This stent prevents the artery from renarrowing. The balloon, filter, and catheter are removed, and the stent remains in place permanently. The procedure lasts 90-120 minutes and typically requires a 1 night stay in the hospital. You will likely resume everyday activities within 2 days.