Carotid Artery Stent Insertion
What you should know
Carotid artery stent insertion is a surgery to widen a narrowed carotid artery. A stent is a small cylinder-shaped tube that widens a blood vessel. The carotid artery is a large blood vessel found in your neck that carries blood and oxygen to your brain.
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- You may get an infection after a carotid artery stent insertion. During the surgery, your carotid artery may get punctured and may cause bleeding. Plaque may break off and block arteries in your brain. This can become life-threatening. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
- Even after your surgery, your carotid artery may narrow again. If left untreated, your dizziness, weakness, loss of sensation, and problems in thinking may continue and get worse. You may have trouble going back to your usual activities.
The week before your surgery:
- Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery. Do not drive yourself home.
- During the surgery, you may receive contrast dye to help caregivers see your carotid artery on x-rays. Tell your caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
- You may need to have blood or urine tests. You may also need x-rays, a CT scan, MRI, or duplex ultrasound. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
The night before your surgery:
- You may be given medicine to help you sleep.
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of your surgery:
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
- You may receive medicine to help you relax or make you drowsy. You will also get anesthesia medicine to help control pain during the surgery. You may also receive medicines to help prevent blood clots.
- During the surgery, your caregiver will insert a catheter (thin flexible tube) into a large blood vessel in your arm or groin. The catheter will be slowly guided towards your carotid artery with the help of x-rays and contrast dye. When the catheter reaches the narrowed area, your caregiver may place a device that looks like a small balloon. He will inflate the balloon to widen the carotid artery. The stent will then be inserted through the same catheter and placed at the newly widened area. After the catheter is removed, your caregiver will apply pressure over the area where the catheter was inserted. He will cover your incision wound with bandages to keep the area dry and prevent infection.
After your surgery:
You may be taken to a recovery room to rest. Caregivers will watch you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When caregivers see that you are okay, you will be taken back to your hospital room. Caregivers may place a small sandbag over the bandage to put pressure on the incision and prevent bleeding. The sandbag may stay in place for a few hours. You may need to put your hand over the incision area if you have to cough or sneeze. A caregiver may remove the bandages to check your incision wound.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your appointment on time.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery.
Seek Care Immediately if
- The problems for which you are having the carotid artery stent insertion get worse.
- You lose feeling in a part of your body.
- You feel dizzy, weak, confused, or faint.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.