HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR THE PROCEDURE?
You will receive instructions from staff at the interventional radiologist's office at least a day before the procedure. Make sure to let the staff know if you have any allergies to medications or to contrast material which may be used during this procedure. If you are on any blood thinners such as aspirin, Coumadin, Lovenox, Heparin, or Plavix please let staff know. You may have blood drawn for pre-procedure testing at either the hospital or clinic. Staff will advises you if changes in your regular medication schedule are necessary.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
The interventional radiologist will make a small nick in the skin in the groin and insert a stent into the carotid artery. A balloon catheter is threaded through the artery until it reaches the site of the blockage, where the balloon is then inflated. Expanding the balloon helps to restore blood flow by stretching the stent and carotid arterial wall. The balloon-tipped catheter is removed, while the stent remains in place and helps blood flow.
WHAT WILL I EXPERIENCE DURING THE PROCEDURE?
An IV line will be inserted into your arm so you can be given a mild sedative. You will most likely remain awake during the procedure. Devices to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure will be attached to your body.
Next, the catheter is inserted and the stent is placed inside the carotid artery where the blockage is taking place. The entire procedure usually lasts between 30 minutes and two hours.
When the procedure is completed you will be moved into a recovery room. For several hours, your catheter site will be monitored. Your physician may prescribe medication to relax your arteries. If contrast material was used during the procedure, you will urinate often to rid your body of this material.
You will remain in the hospital overnight and return home the day after the procedure. You will typically be able to walk within two to six hours following the procedure.
After returning home, you should rest and drink plenty of fluids. You should avoid heavy lifting and smoking for at least 24 hours (you should avoid smoking permanently since this is a major cause of atherosclerosis). If bleeding begins where the catheter was inserted, you should lie down and apply pressure to the site and call your physician. Any change in pain you should contact your physician.