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Medical Services

Carotid Artery Disease

We are experts in diagnosing and treating carotid artery disease in Philadelphia, PA.

What is Carotid Artery Disease?

The carotid arteries are the main blood supply to the brain. Plaque – a fatty substance made up of fat, cholesterol and mineral deposits – can clog these arteries causing them to narrow and become blocked. When this occurs, you run the risk of having a stroke. The specialists at Pennsylvania Vascular Associates can diagnose these blocked arteries with non-invasive tests (ultrasound) in our accredited vascular laboratory in our office and make a decision about whether surgery is necessary, almost always without any other tests such as MRA, CT scan, or arteriogram.

Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease

The following risk factors can increase your chances of carotid artery disease:

Diabetes
Smoking
High cholesterol
High blood pressure

Signs and Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease

Symptoms of carotid artery disease or blockage are TIA – transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke – or a stroke. Symptoms include:

Weakness or paralysis in an arm or leg on one side of your body
Severe numbness or tingling in an arm or leg on one side of your body
Loss of vision in one eye
Slurred speech

Diagnosis for Carotid Artery Disease

The diagnosis of internal carotid artery disease can be made in our accredited non-invasive vascular laboratory in our office, usually the same day that you see the vascular specialist. We are one of very few hospitals in the Philadelphia area that can make a decision whether to recommend medical treatment or some type of intervention based solely on a duplex ultrasound in our laboratory. We have been using this strategy for fifteen years and do not require the use of MRAs or CT angiograms, which most other hospitals including university hospitals, require. Our vascular lab technologists are extremely well trained and well qualified with the latest up to date equipment, which allows us to avoid the need to get other expensive and inconvenient tests such as MRA or CT scans.

Treatment for Carotid Artery Disease

In large comparative studies comparing surgery to aspirin, surgery has been proven to be the best option of treatment for carotid artery disease if the blockage is severe. The specialists at Pennsylvania Vascular Associates perform the surgery using local anesthesia and requiring only an overnight hospital stay. Since we are vascular specialists and offer all types of treatment, balloon angioplasty and stenting of the blocked artery maybe be considered for unusual cases when surgery may be very difficult or impossible. We always choose the best option for our patients since we can offer any and all treatments. If surgery is requires, we always can arrange for patients to see one of our heart specialists, or cardiologists, the same day as the vascular specialist is seen, to be sure your heart is strong enough for surgery.