Carotid Artery Disease

Also known as cerebrovascular insufficiency, this condition is characterized by a narrowing in one or both of the two carotid arteries in the neck, and can lead to stroke. Most frequently, the narrowing results from atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," which can be associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.

Plaque forms in the carotid artery in the neck, a blood vessel which normally provides blood flow to the brain. If the carotid artery becomes narrowed enough, tiny blood clots and pieces of plaque can break off, travel to the brain, and cause a stroke or mini-stroke (TIA).

University of Chicago surgeons work in a multidisciplinary team with neurologists and interventionalists to provide optimal care to patients with carotid artery disease. Our vascular laboratory provides ultrasound imaging options for carotid artery disease which can often preclude further invasive testing. Treatment plans--including medical, interventional, and surgical options--are individualized for each patient. Our surgeons may elect to medically treat and closely follow patients with mild carotid artery disease. For more severe disease, carotid artery stenting or surgical removal of the plaque inside the carotid artery (carotid endarterectomy) may be performed to reduce the risk of stroke.

Our staff is knowledgeable and fully trained in minimally invasive and surgical techniques, providing the patient with a full range of options. We also provide both medical, interventional, and surgical treatment of less common cerebrovascular conditions--such as fibromuscular dysplasia, vertebral artery disease, subclavian artery disease, and aneurysms in the blood vessels of the neck.


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