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New Stent System Available to Help Prevent Stroke

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Posted: 6/1/2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Approximately 25 percent of strokes are caused by carotid artery disease from atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to the brain. Eventually, the artery narrows, blood flow is decreased and the risk of stroke is increased.

The Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University is one of few institutions across the nation to utilize a stent that opens blocked arteries in the neck.

This week, the division of vascular surgery at OSU Ross Heart Hospital began using the only carotid stent system approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Carotid artery stenting is a new therapy used for treating blockages in the carotid artery, the main blood vessel that supplies oxygen and blood to the brain, thus assisting in the prevention of stroke.

“This distal protection device helps prevent debris from going to the brain and causing a stroke,” says Dr. Jean Starr, director of endovascular services at the Ross Heart Hospital.

A stroke can occur if the carotid artery becomes blocked, a piece of plaque breaks off and travels to smaller arteries of the brain, or a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery. Ultimately, a stroke occurs when brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and glucose carried to them by blood.

Previously, blockages in the carotid artery were treated with a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy, in which surgeons made an incision in the neck artery to remove the plaque and diseased portions of the artery. The artery was then sewn back together to allow blood flow to the brain.

The new stent system is inserted during angioplasty, a less invasive procedure than endarterectomy in which, via a catheter inserted into the groin, the stent is threaded up to the neck. A tiny umbrella-like filter is used to catch and remove loose pieces of plaque that develop during the stenting procedure before they travel to the brain and can create a stroke.

“This new carotid stent system is the only FDA approved system currently available for the prevention of stroke for patients who are at high risk for carotid endarterectomy. The stent opens the narrowing in the carotid neck artery, again to prevent a stroke,” Starr said.

The FDA approved the system based on a review of clinical studies of safety and effectiveness conducted by Guidant Corp., the system’s manufacturer.

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Sherri L. Kirk
Medical Center Communications

Ross Heart Hospital; Stroke