Carotid Artery Disease

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Vascular surgeons at UT Southwestern Medical Center are renowned for their advanced treatments of carotid artery disease, a condition caused by the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

Experts in Treating Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances – collectively called plaque – clog the two large blood vessels in the neck. These blood vessels are responsible for delivering blood to the brain and head. Blockage increases the risk of stroke, which can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

UT Southwestern’s vascular surgeons are experts at treating carotid artery disease. Our surgeons have in-depth experience performing all carotid procedures, including:

  • Standard carotid endarterectomy
  • Transfemoral carotid stenting
  • Innovative procedures such as TCAR (transcervical carotid artery revascularization)

We offer some of the most advanced interventional therapies and surgical procedures available to treat all forms of vascular disease, and our surgeons perform more than 1,000 vascular operations each year. State-of-the-art intraoperative neuromonitoring is used in the operating room to monitor brain activity during surgery.

Our doctors and scientists are leading the way in developing new treatments that extend and improve the lives of our patients and others throughout the world. We work closely with UT Southwestern’s neurologists to provide comprehensive care. 

Risk Factors and Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease

Risk factors for carotid artery disease include:

 A patient might not experience any symptoms of carotid artery disease until the blood vessels are significantly narrowed or blocked. A stroke might be the first sign of the disease.

Diagnosis of Carotid Artery Disease

Imaging tests are the standard way we diagnose carotid artery disease. These include:

  • Carotid ultrasound (sonography), which helps evaluate blood flow and pressure in the carotid arteries
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to see signs of stroke or other abnormalities
  • CT or MRI angiography, which uses a contrast dye to provide additional images of blood flow in the blood vessels 

We also collect a patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam to help us accurately diagnose the condition.

Treatment for Carotid Artery Disease  

The goal of treatment for carotid artery disease is to avoid stroke. We work with patients who have carotid artery disease to tailor a treatment plan to their individual situation.

Our treatments for carotid artery disease include:

  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, improving diet, quitting smoking, or losing weight
  • Endarterectomy (surgery to prevent the plaque) and stenting (putting a small metal stent in the blocked artery), or TCAR (transcarotid carotid artery revascularization)

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