The vascular team at UnityPoint Health® is the first in Central Illinois to treat carotid artery disease and prevent future strokes using a new procedure called Trans Carotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR). TCAR is a clinically proven, minimally invasive approach for high surgical-risk patients who need carotid artery treatment. UnityPoint Health Vascular Surgeon, Scott Reid, DO along with Interventional Radiologists Jan Namyslowski, MD and Paul Chesis, MD, PhD of Specialists in Medical Imaging, SC, are the first vascular experts in the region to complete this procedure.
“TCAR is a revolutionary, new option in the fight against stroke and is now here at UnityPoint Health,” said Dr. Scott Reid. “We see a large portion of patients who are at higher risk of complications from carotid surgery due to age, anatomy, or other medical conditions. TCAR is better suited for them because of its low stroke risk and faster patient recovery.”
Carotid artery disease is a form of atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque, in the two main arteries in the neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. If left untreated, carotid artery disease can often lead to stroke; it is estimated to be the source of stroke in up to a third of cases, with 400,000 new diagnoses of the disease made every year in the U.S. alone.
“TCAR represents a significant milestone in development of low risk, minimally invasive treatment options for atherosclerotic carotid stenosis,” said Drs. Paul Chesis and Jan Namyslowski. “This system has been shown in clinical trials to further minimize the already low procedural risks. It is also an excellent platform for collaboration among vascular specialists.”
TCAR is unique in that blood flow is temporarily reversed during the procedure so that any small bits of plaque that may break off are diverted away from the brain, preventing a stroke from happening. A small incision in the neck is done to limit the pathway the wire has to travel, minimizing the risk of stroke. A stent is then placed inside the artery to open it and stabilize the plaque.
Prior to TCAR, one of the treatment options for severe carotid artery disease was an open surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy (CEA). CEA removes plaque from inside the carotid artery to restore normal blood flow to the brain, but the large incision leaves a visible scar the length of the neck and carries risks of surgical complications that can cause issues with swallowing, speaking and sensation in the face. Carotid stenting (CAS) was subsequently developed, usually performed via a groin artery approach, and demonstrated to provide a minimally invasive alternative to surgery.
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