The major blood supply to the brain travels through a pair of arteries
on each side of the neck called the carotid arteries. When plaque forms
in the arteries, the blood flow is blocked and increases the risk of a
clot. Doctors can surgically clean out the arteries in a procedure called
Studies done by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
(NINDS) showed the surgery is highly beneficial for people who have already
had a stroke, have had symptoms of stroke, or have a severe blockage.
During the surgery, an incision is made in the neck of the patients and
the artery is opened, cleared and closed. Sometimes, the artery needs
a piece of a vein from another part of the body (usually the leg) to make
the repair. The operation is considered very safe, but there are is always
a risk of complications including bleeding, infection or scarring.
As an option to surgery, you doctors may recommend angioplasty and stenting.
Similar to the angioplasty done for heart, in involves threading a catheter
through the arteries, using a balloon to open it, then placing a stent
to keep the artery open.