Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA)
Carotid Angioplasty with Stenting (CAS)

If you have been diagnosed with carotid artery disease – also called carotid artery stenosis – it’s important to know that effective treatment is available at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular in Portland. Treatment is important because carotid artery disease increases your risk of a stroke.

Our skilled vascular surgeons have extensive experience performing the two most effective procedures available today for treating carotid artery disease: carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and carotid artery angioplasty with stenting (CAS).

Their surgical expertise and careful patient selection result in consistently excellent outcomes in the patients treated here.

What is carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery disease (or carotid artery stenosis) occurs when the carotid arteries – the six main blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain – become narrowed. This narrowing is usually related to atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries,” a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.

Carotid artery disease is similar to coronary artery disease, in which blockages occur in the arteries of the heart and may cause a heart attack. Blockages in the carotid arteries, however, increase the risk of a stroke (brain attack), and treatment is aimed at reducing this risk.

How is carotid artery disease treated?

There are two procedures for treating carotid artery disease:

  • Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is the surgical removal of atherosclerotic plaque that has built up on the inside of the carotid artery wall. It’s the most commonly performed surgical treatment for carotid artery disease. An incision is made on the side of the neck where the affected carotid artery is located; the artery is opened and the plaque removed. The artery is sutured back together, restoring normal blood flow to the brain. The average hospital stay after CEA is two days.
  • Carotid angioplasty with stenting (CAS) is a minimally invasive procedure requiring only a small incision in the groin. A catheter (long hollow tube) with a tiny balloon at its tip is threaded up to the narrowing in the carotid artery under X-ray guidance. The balloon is inflated in the narrowed area of the carotid artery, pushing the plaque to the side and widening the artery to improve blood flow. A stent (a tiny, expandable metal scaffold) may be placed the newly opened artery to prevent it from narrowing again. Most patients are discharged from the hospital within 24 hours after CAS.

The most appropriate procedure to treat your carotid artery disease depends on several factors, including your overall health and the severity of your carotid artery disease. Your doctor will talk to you about which procedure is the most appropriate intervention for treating your carotid artery disease.