Carotid artery stenosis

Head | Neurology | Carotid artery stenosis (Disease)


Carotid stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the carotid artery, often a preamble to a stroke, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is plaques consist of clumps of cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue and other cellular debris that gather at microscopic injury sites within the artery, creating a blood clot known by the name of thrombus.

In its early stages, carotid artery disease often doesnt produce any signs or symptoms. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are a warning sign, and are often followed by severe permanent strokes. Signs and symptoms of a stroke or TIA may include: sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often on only one side of the body, trouble speaking and understanding, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, dizziness or loss of balance and a sudden, severe headache.

Causes and Risk factors

Factors that stress your arteries and increase the risk of injury, buildup of plaques and disease are: age, heredity, high blood pressure, smoking, abnormal blood-fat levels, diabetes, obesity and sedentary life (physical inactivity).

Diagnosis and Treatment

Carotid stenosis is usually diagnosed by colour flow duplex ultrasound scan of the carotid arteries in the neck. Occasionally further imaging is required such as angiogram, computed tomography angiogram (CTA) or magnetic resonance imaging angiogram (MRA).

The goal in treating carotid artery disease is preventing stroke. Treatment includes: medications alone (an antiplatelet drug and control of risk factors for atherosclerosis) and carotid endarterectomy or carotid stenting. ...