What Is Carotid Stenting?

Carotid stenting encompasses a spectrum of advanced medical procedures designed to address conditions affecting the blood vessels that are supplying the brain or neck region.

Interventional radiologists, using minimally invasive techniques guided by imaging technologies, can diagnose and treat these conditions that are affecting these blood vessels. These stenting interventions are primarily targeting arterial issues such as blockages, malformations, or weaknesses, and are critical in managing diverse conditions.

Carotid conditions refer to medical issues or abnormalities related to the carotid arteries, which are the major blood vessels located on each side of the neck. These two main carotid arteries are the common carotid arteries, which divide into the internal and external carotid arteries.

Interventional radiologists can perform carotid artery angioplasty and stenting to open narrowed or blocked carotid arteries to improve blood flow to the brain, reducing the risk of stroke.

In advance and during these carotid stenting procedures, interventional radiologists will work closely with a patient’s general practitioner, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, and neurologists to ensure that a holistic approach is taken in achieving the best patient outcome.

Why Would a Doctor Refer Me for A Carotid Stenting Procedure?

If your doctor suspects you have narrowing of the carotid artery from your history, symptoms and examination, you will be sent for a test to confirm whether narrowing of the artery exists. If significant narrowing is identified, you might be referred for carotid stenting to reduce the likelihood of a stroke, which is caused by a reduction of the blood supply to the brain.

Your doctor would choose carotid stenting as an alternative to surgery based on your medical condition and the reduced chance of complications.

Carotid Stenting

Wondering If You Qualify for Carotid Stenting?

How Do I Prepare for the Procedure?

Preparation for carotid stenting encompasses several essential steps. First it involves a thorough medical evaluation with your healthcare provider to review your medical history, and potentially performing imaging tests to ascertain the necessity and feasibility of the stenting procedure.

Before the day of the procedure, you may receive instructions to refrain from eating or drinking for a specified duration to ensure a safe and effective outcome. As well, your doctor might recommend adjusting or discontinuing certain medications ahead of the procedure to minimise potential risks or complications.

What Happens During the Stenting Procedure?

The procedure commences with the administration of anaesthesia. You will receive either a local or general anaesthetic depending on the complexity and duration of the procedure.

Following this, a catheter will be Inserted. A catheter is a thin, flexible tube which is skilfully guided into an artery through a small cut in the groin and, carefully manoeuvred to reach the affected area using X-ray images to ensure correct placement. A thin wire will be inserted through the catheter, and passed across the narrow part of the artery that will be widened by the stent.

A stent attached to the catheter is placed through the narrow part and uncovered to open the stent. After the stent is in place, the interventional radiologist may need to stretch and widen the stent using a small balloon inserted with another catheter. If an embolic protection device is used, it will be removed together with all the catheters at the end of the procedure.

An embolic protection device is a tiny instrument that catches any blood clots or small particles of material blocking the artery that might break away during the procedure.
Most of the time a closure device is used to seal the small cut where the original catheter was inserted in the groin.

pae recovery

What Is the Recovery Normally Like?

The recovery process typically involves a hospital stay, depending on the complexity of the procedure and individual health factors.

You may be advised to limit physical activities or adhere to specific restrictions for a designated period post-procedure to facilitate optimal healing.

Regular follow-up appointments with your doctor are essential for monitoring progress, assessing healing, and managing any potential complications that may arise.

What are the risks?

Although carotid stenting is minimally invasive, it will still carry inherent risks, including;

  • Bleeding or hematoma formation
  • Infection at the intervention site
  • Allergic reactions to contrast material used during the imaging
  • Blood vessel injury or perforation
  • Rare but serious complications such as stroke or heart attack

What are the benefits?

  • Reduced risk of stroke or aneurysm rupture
  • Restoration of normal blood flow
  • Alleviation of symptoms
  • Minimally invasive approach, leading to faster recovery


The timeline for observing the results of these stenting interventions can vary significantly. Improvement in symptoms or visible changes on imaging studies indicating successful treatment may become apparent in the days, weeks, or even months following the procedure. Your doctor will provide guidance on what to expect post-procedure and during the recovery phase.

Carotid stenting is pivotal in managing various vascular conditions affecting the brain and neck regions. Understanding the nuances of the procedure, potential risks, benefits, and anticipated outcomes is crucial for patients and their families to make informed decisions. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalised guidance, comprehensive care, and detailed information tailored to your specific health needs.

If you’d like to speak more with an Interventional Radiologist about stenting, and if it could be right for you, you can find specialists in this area by clicking on the provided Doctor Finder link on the IRSA website.

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