SwedishAmerican offers a new, minimally-invasive procedure to reduce the risk of stroke

Physicians at SwedishAmerican Hospital are offering a new, less-invasive treatment option to prevent the risk of stroke in patients with carotid artery disease. The therapy, called carotid artery stenting, was demonstrated to have a lower rate of death, myocardial infarction (heart attack), and stroke in high-risk patients than traditional surgery.

“We believe carotid artery stenting is an important therapy in the prevention of stroke,” said Jagdeep Sabharwal, M.D., cardiologist. “The minimally-invasive nature of the procedure and use of local rather than general anesthesia provide a viable treatment alternative to a large group of high-risk patients.”

Approximately 25 percent of strokes are caused by carotid artery disease from atherosclerosis, which is characterized by the build-up of plaque on the inside of the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries, which are in the neck, carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. A stroke can occur if the artery becomes occluded, if a piece of plaque breaks off, or if a clot forms in the carotid artery, blocking the blood flow to the brain.

Carotid endarterectomy is the standard surgical method for restoring blood flow within the carotid arteries, with approximately 170,000 procedures performed in the United States each year. It requires an incision in the patient’s neck and artery to remove plaque and debris from inside the vessel wall, thereby reducing the incidence of a stroke.

Carotid artery stenting is a minimally-invasive alternative to traditional surgery in which a physician uses a combination of balloon angioplasty and a stent implant to unblock and re-open the carotid artery, a major supplier of blood to the brain. While the lesion is stented during the procedure, an embolic protection system is used to collect plaque that could become dislodged and potentially cause a stroke. Carotid artery stenting may provide a preventive measure against stroke for patients with carotid artery disease who are ineligible for the current method of care.

“We are encouraged by the positive clinical data for carotid stenting when used for high-risk patients,” said Marc Bernstein, M.D., Interventional radiologist. “As we look forward, we hope additional clinical studies demonstrate that this minimally-invasive therapy can be safely used in an increasing number of patients.”

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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