I am a fan of medical dramas and one of the smallest but important parts of our body that I learned from watching these TV programs is the importance of carotid artery. There is this one episode from “Grey’s Anatomy” wherein the patient was brought to the emergency room for having medical trouble with his carotid artery. This is where I learned how valuable is this artery to our survival.
Found on the sides of the neck, carotid arteries are crucial to our survival as their main function is to transport the oxygen in our blood to the brain so it can effectively perform its function. Without the carotid arteries doing their job, we would be suffering from stroke or other brain disorders as it will be the death of our brain cells. There are times when plaque has started to build up in the carotid artery. When this occurs, the blood flow will be restricted and can result to the patient suffering from stroke.
The plaque that are blocking the blood low are commonly composed of cholesterol as well as fats. Due to this, it is essential that the carotid artery disease be managed as strokes can be fatal or in some better scenarios can lead to permanent or temporary impairment of the brain functioning and our entire body.
How Do We Treat the Carotid Artery Disease?
Knowing the importance of carotid arteries, it is essential to determine the best treatment option to save ourselves from possible stroke. This is where the carotid artery surgery comes in. Also known or referred to as carotid endarterectomy, the carotid artery surgery is an effective method to eliminate the plaque deposits and lessen our risk of suffering stroke.
Different Benefits or Uses From Carotid Artery Surgery
What is the main use or benefit that patients can obtain from undergoing carotid artery surgery? Based on different clinical studies, carotid artery surgery’s main purpose is to ensure healthy blood flow to the brain to alleviate our stroke risk.
In addition to this, another benefit that patients can get from this surgery is to be safe from transient ischemic attack which shares the same signs as stroke. Among the symptoms of this condition are walking difficulty, speech difficulty, vision difficulty as well as numbness. The difference of stroke with transient ischemic attack is that the symptoms of the latter will be gone one hour at the most. However, similar to stroke, the cause of transient ischemic attack is lack of oxygen in the brain.
For the stated uses above, doctors commonly recommend patients to undergo the surgical operation if they have already suffered from stroke, if doctors have found severe blockage in the carotid arteries and if TIA has already been observed.
How Do Medical Professionals and Patients Gear Up for Carotid Artery Surgery?
When a patient decides to undergo the carotid artery surgery, preparations are to be done to ensure safety during the procedure. Diagnostic tests will be recommended by medical professionals so they will have a better look on the health status of the patient’s carotid arteries. Among the tests that will be performed are carotid ultrasound, carotid angiography and magnetic resonance angiography. Computed tomography angiography may also be recommended to have a 3D view of the blockage in the arteries.
What Are the Risks Associated With Carotid Artery Surgery?
Just like other surgical procedures, undergoing carotid artery surgery comes with risks. This is why it is best to learn the risks and weigh them with the advantages before deciding on whether you are to push through with the surgery.
So what are the risks of undergoing carotid artery surgery? According to some research, there is a small possibility that a patient suffers from mini strokes or strokes. To be exact, only two percent of patients were reported to have the complication.
To prevent the patient from this complication, the blood flow will be directed to the brain to ensure that the brain has enough oxygen needed to function properly. In addition to this, an anticoagulation drug may also be taken by the patient before the procedure so blood clots will be lessened.
Another risk that patients should be ready to face is heart attack. This risk is not just limited to carotid artery surgery but to many surgical procedures. This is because when we undergo surgeries, our body is in great amount of stress. In order to prevent a patient from having heart attack, a medical team is always stationed closely to regularly monitor changes in heart rate as well as in blood pressure during and after the operation.
How Long Do Patients Recover From Carotid Artery Surgery?
Medical professionals cannot provide us with exact recovery period as it differs from one patient to another. In most cases, patients who underwent a carotid artery surgery should be monitored in the hospital for a day to ensure that he or she is safe from any complications such as poor blood flow and bleeding.
To speed up the recovery of patients, medical professionals will prescribe pain medications to patients to help address neck soreness. Among the medications that are commonly prescribed are aspirin and other anticlotting drugs.
An Alternative Procedure to Carotid Artery Surgery
For patients who are not sure about the risks associated with carotid artery surgery or who are not healthy enough to undergo this procedure, there is another medical procedure that they can try. Carotid angioplasty is an effective alternative but patients need to discuss this option with their physician to ensure that they are also in good health condition to have this.
Instead of opening up, this option is less invasive in a way that the plaque deposits in the carotid arteries will be inserted to push out the plaque from the arteries. Same as with the carotid artery surgery, patients who choose this option will still need to take anticlotting drugs before the procedure to save them from complications such as strokes as well as mini strokes that could be fatal.