14 October 2014
New research has now suggested that stents are an effective and safe way to prevent strokes and invasive neck surgery.
This is according to reports from an international trial led by UCL (University College London) and published in the Lancet.
Carotid arteries - a pair of large blood vessels - supply the brain with blood but they can become diseased when cholesterol and fatty deposits build up, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of stroke.
In the UK, this is commonly treated with an invasive surgical procedure called endarterectomy, which involves cutting open the affected artery to remove the build-up and then sew the wound up. This often results in a risk of heart attacks, short-term facial paralysis from nerve damage, and bleeding.
Stenting is a less invasive alternative using a small mesh cylinder to keep the artery open, which only requires local anaesthetic, and is inserted through a small cut in the groin and fed up to the neck using a thin wire.
The study followed 1,713 patients with carotid artery disease, with 855 having the stent procedure and 858 an endarterectomy, for up to ten years. It found that both techniques were equal for preventing disabling strokes, but stented patients were slightly more likely to have minor strokes without long-term effects.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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