Carotid arteries are located toward the front on each side of the neck. The purpose of these is to transport blood from the heart to the brain. Narrowing (stenosis) of these vessels decreases the amount of blood that can get to the brain. Sometimes, carotid artery angioplasty and stenting can be performed to restore blood flow.
To begin, the surgeon creates a small incision to gain access to an artery, typically in the groin. With the help of contrast dye and x-rays, a small catheter is inserted into the artery and then directed up the body into the narrowed artery. A balloon is threaded up to the affected area and then inflated. Doing this pushes the plaque buildup which widens the vessel. A small metal mesh stent is often used with this procedure. If appropriate, the stent is placed into the artery where the balloon pushed the plaque to the side. The stent helps to keep the artery open and blood to flow normally.