Angioplasty and Stenting Carry Small Stroke Risks

Cardiac procedures may dislodge particles that travel to brain, study says

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TUESDAY, Sept. 16, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- One in four people undergoing carotid angioplasty and stenting procedures may have particles that dislodge from artery walls and travel to the brain.

Even protection devices don't always do the trick, says a study in the Sept. 17 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

German researchers examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 42 patients before and after they had the procedures. In these patients, six different types of protection systems were used. The most common was deployment of a tiny basket filter in the carotid artery designed to catch any particles that broke loose during the angioplasty and stenting procedures.

One of the patients suffered a major stroke. In nine other cases (including two procedures in the same person) the MRI scans revealed particles may have lodged in the brains of patients and interfered with blood flow, even though the patients didn't have any symptoms.

Carotid angioplasty and stenting involves the use of a catheter with a balloon tip to widen narrowings in the carotid artery. A wire mesh is left behind to help hold the blood vessel open.

Narrowings of the carotid artery increase the risk of stroke. While carotid angioplasty and stenting is designed to treat that artery narrowing, the treatment itself does carry a small risk of causing a stroke.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about angioplasty.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, news release, Sept. 16, 2003

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