Carotid Artery Disease Treatments | MedStar Health

Slowing disease progression and removing blockages

The carotid arteries are the two large blood vessels in your neck that supply the brain with blood. We treat Carotid Artery Disease, which occurs when fatty plaque deposits cause the carotid arteries to narrow or become blocked, with a goal of keeping the disease from getting worse and preventing stroke.

The experts in our Vascular and Endovascular Program are leaders in treating carotid artery disease, including through endarterectomy, angioplasty, and stenting. We’ll work with you to evaluate and choose.

Medication and lifestyle changes

If your carotid artery disease is mild to moderate, lifestyle modifications may slow the progression of the disease. This can include quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.

If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to slow the disease’s progression, your doctor may recommend medication to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol and prevent blood clots from forming.

Procedure

In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend a procedure to reopen the carotid artery in order to lower your risk of stroke. There are two options in which to do this: carotid Endarterectomy or angioplasty and stenting.

Carotid endarterectomy

This is the most common treatment for carotid artery disease. After being put under general anesthesia, your doctor will make an incision in your neck to reach the narrowed or blocked artery and reroute blood flow to the brain. They then will remove the plaque and repair the damaged portion of the artery. Finally, blood flow will be restored through its normal path.

The procedure should take about two hours, and you’ll need to stay overnight in the hospital.

Angioplasty and stenting

This is an alternative, minimally invasive approach that can be used if your blockage is too difficult to reach with endarterectomy or you have health conditions that make surgery too risky. In this procedure, you’ll be given a sedative to help you relax, but you’ll remain awake.

Your doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube known as a catheter through a blood vessel in your arm, groin, or neck and guide it to the blockage. A balloon at the end of the catheter will be inflated to widen the artery, and a small wire mesh tube called a stent will be inserted to act as a scaffold and keep the artery open.

The procedure should take about 1 hour and a half. You will need to stay overnight for monitoring.

Conditions

Carotid Artery Disease

Also known as carotid artery stenosis, occurs when fatty deposits known as plaque cause the carotid arteries to narrow or become blocked.

Carotid Body Tumor

A carotid body tumor, also known as a chemodectoma or paraganglioma, is a tumor located in the upper part of the neck where the two carotid arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the brain, branch into smaller blood vessels.

Extracranial Carotid Artery Aneurysm

An extracranial carotid artery aneurysm is a bulge that weakens the walls of the main artery in your neck and may create blood clots that can result in a stroke.

Tests

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Carotid Duplex Ultrasound

Carotid duplex ultrasound uses Doppler and traditional ultrasound to assess blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to your brain.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar St. Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

Read our Cardiovascular Performance & Outcomes Booklet

Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.