By LOIS KINDLE
A minimally invasive procedure that can help patients reduce their risk of stroke from carotid artery disease is now being performed at HCA Florida South Shore Hospital.
Known as transcarotid artery revascularization or TCAR, the clinically proven procedure is performed to clear fatty deposits (plaques) clogging the blood vessels that deliver blood to the brain and head and open a narrowed carotid artery.
“TCAR is an important option in the fight against stroke and is now available to all eligible patients at South Shore Hospital, regardless of their surgical risk status,” said vascular surgeon Dr. Howard Hermans, who performed the hospital’s first elective TCAR procedure on Aug. 17. “Not only is TCAR less invasive than open surgery (CEA), but there is also less chance of heart attack and nerve injury. Because of its low stroke risk and faster patient recovery, I believe TCAR brings a new level of care to this community.”
His colleague, vascular surgeon Dr. Jenna Kazil, agrees.
“After being one of the physicians in the preliminary trials, I’m so happy to finally bring TCARs to Sun City Center,” she said. “TCARs allow patients to have fewer complications and [vascular surgeons] to treat more patients than traditional open carotid surgery. This is an excellent treatment option to add to the services at South Shore Hospital, and I’m excited to participate in the program.”
During the TCAR procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision at the base of the neck, just above the collarbone, and places a tube in the carotid artery. This tube is connected to a system that temporarily redirects blood flow away from the brain and filters out any plaque debris.
Once filtered, the blood is returned through a second tube placed in the groin/thigh area. A stent – a short, wire-mesh tube — is implanted in the carotid artery to keep it open and prevent future strokes. Blood flow is returned to normal, and the system is removed.
The procedure is usually completed in less than an hour.
Prior to TCAR, the main treatment option for severe carotid artery disease was the open surgical procedure to which Kazil referred, carotid endarterectomy (CEA). While it also removes plaque from inside the carotid artery to restore normal blood flow to the brain, it leaves a large scar along the length of the neck and has greater risks of the surgical complications, such as bleeding, infection, heart attack and cranial nerve injuries.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.
Risk factors include diabetes and smoking; stress; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; obesity; a family history of atherosclerosis; coronary artery or peripheral artery disease; sedentary lifestyle; and a diet high in saturated and trans fats, sugar, sodium and cholesterol.
Seconds count when it comes to a stroke. Call 911 immediately if you see someone experiencing any of these stroke symptoms: facial drooping, slurred speech, arm weakness or numbness. The stroke victim must quickly get to an ER to be evaluated for thrombotic (clot-busting) treatment.
Other stroke symptoms include comprehension difficulties; loss of balance or coordination; dizziness; issues seeing in one or both eyes; and a sudden, severe headache.
Per the American Stroke Association, an average of 1.9 million brain cells die every minute a stroke goes untreated.
For more information, visit www.stroke.org/.