TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) is a safe and non-invasive approach to clear blockages or open narrowed carotid arteries. The carotid artery is the primary mechanism for the body to send oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When too much cholesterol is in the blood, our arteries can become blocked with plaque that collects on the artery’s walls. The plaque can rupture and cause a dangerous blood clot or narrow the artery until it is blocked. When the artery is blocked, the condition becomes life-threatening.
During the TCAR procedure, a small incision in the neck allows the surgeon to reach the carotid artery, which is a large pipeline that carries blood to the brain. When that pipeline becomes blocked, a stroke occurs.
During TCAR, your surgeon will:
- Make a small incision in the neck just above the collarbone
- Carefully puncture the carotid artery
- Insert a short hollow tube into the artery to protect the brain from dangerous debris
- Reverse the blood flow in the artery (blood still reaches the brain via other arteries), directing it to your leg, where we can catch and remove any loose plaque before it causes a problem
- Place a stent (an expandable mesh tube) or a surgical balloon to widen the artery
- Close the incision
The entire procedure usually takes less than an hour. You can even choose to stay awake during the TCAR surgery while still benefiting from pain-relieving medications.
Most patients go home the day after their TCAR. The surgery can be a lifesaver and is proven to effectively reduce the risk of future strokes.