The carotid arteries are the principal pathways for blood into the neck, face, and brain. There’s one artery on each side of the neck, and each artery branches into an internal and external route. The internal carotid artery delivers blood to the brain, while the external branch supplies blood to the neck and face.
Each carotid artery branches at the carotid bulb, or sinus, a widening of the artery at the point where it branches off to its internal and external portions. The carotid bulb senses blood flow and pressure through these major arteries. The carotid artery is the blood vessel you feel when you check the pulse of your neck.
There are many diseases and conditions that can affect the carotid arteries. These can rupture, causing a stroke when the brain no longer receives blood, or severe, uncontrolled internal bleeding.
A blood clot that blocks any artery going to the brain ca cause a stroke by interrupting blow flow. This may occur on its own, or it may be aggravated by carotid artery stenosis — a narrowing of the blood vessel — usually due to atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol plaque in the artery walls.
Stenosis typically has no symptoms until its late stages when it significantly affects the volume of blood reaching the brain. Atherosclerosis develops over many years, slowly creating the stenosis condition. This is often treated with carotid artery surgery.
Dr. Heilbron performs carotid endarterectomy surgery to remove plaque from the carotid artery. As you age, the inner lining of the carotid artery may become stiff. Atherosclerosis occurs as cholesterol and plaque build up on the artery walls. When blood flow to the head and brain is restricted, serious health issues result. The carotid endarterectomy removes plaque and widens the carotid artery.
Though the procedure generally requires only one night in the hospital, with little to no limitation on physical activity for several weeks. The long-term prognosis for you is good, as full blood flow to the brain is restored.
Feel free to email us regarding any scheduling or general questions!