Advertisement

What is an interventional procedure?

Stroke can occur if the branch of the carotid arteries (located in the neck) that carries blood to the brain becomes narrowed or blocked due to a build-up of plaque or the formation of a blood clot.  

A surgical procedure, called endarterectomy, has traditionally been used to remove fatty deposits inside the artery to prevent strokes. Interest is growing in using less-invasive interventional procedures to prevent and treat stroke. 


Carotid Artery Stenting
Carotid artery stenting involves inserting a catheter (a small plastic tube) through an artery in the leg and threading it through the blood vessels to the blockage in the neck. A thin wire that has a collapsible umbrella-like filter device attached to its end is advanced via the catheter to a point just beyond the blockage. 

When opened, the “umbrella” filters the blood flowing to the brain, preventing bits of plaque or blood clot from passing to the brain and causing stroke. The blocked artery is widened by inflating a tiny balloon inside the blood vessel. This pushes the plaque against the artery’s walls and makes way for the stent, which is inserted to prop open the artery. Once the stent is in place, the umbrella filter and catheter are removed.


Preventing Stroke by Closing the PFO
A small opening, or hole, in the wall between the heart’s two upper chambers (atria) has been implicated in recurrent stroke. The patent foramen ovale, or PFO, as the opening is called, normally closes shortly after birth. But in about 25 percent of the population, it does not close securely. That means that blood can pass from the right atrium (the right upper chamber of the heart) to the left atrium (the left upper chamber of the heart) without first being filtered or oxygenated in the lungs. If blood entering the left atrium contains a clot or other impurities, the impurities could be carried by the blood to the brain, possibly causing stroke.

For patients at high risk of stroke, interventional cardiologists are using a catheter-based approach to implant a small closure device that seals the PFO shut. Once it is closed, unfiltered blood containing impurities cannot flow into the left atrium or to the brain.  
   

Continue Learning about Heart Disease

It’s Never Too Early to Start Taking Care of Your Heart
It’s Never Too Early to Start Taking Care of Your Heart
Heart disease doesn't just affect the elderly. In this video, Dr. Oz shares how you can take steps now to protect your heart.
Read More
Why is carotid stenosis a risk factor for heart disease?
UCLA HealthUCLA Health
Carotid stenosis, a disease of the blood vessels, refers to blocked arteries in your neck, putting y...
More Answers
6 Numbers a Woman Must Know to Protect Her Heart
6 Numbers a Woman Must Know to Protect Her Heart6 Numbers a Woman Must Know to Protect Her Heart6 Numbers a Woman Must Know to Protect Her Heart6 Numbers a Woman Must Know to Protect Her Heart
Heart disease is a leading killer of women. Tracking these numbers could potentially save your life. In years past, it was commonly assumed that heart...
Start Slideshow
How Can the Obesity Problem In America Be Solved?
How Can the Obesity Problem In America Be Solved?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.