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Carotid Stenosis

What is Carotid Stenosis?


Updated September 23, 2008

Carotid Stenosis

Internal carotid stenosis is an important cause of stroke. The internal carotid arteries are two of the most important blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. There are two internal carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck. Stenosis, or narrowing of these arteries develops when people with high cholesterol have a concurrent condition known as atherosclerosis. In this disease fats are deposited along the walls of blood vessels leading to a progressive narrowing of the area through which blood flows.

Other abnormalities that can cause decreased blood flow through the internal carotid arteries include a thrombus (blood clot), carotid dissection, arteritis, and fibromuscular displasia.

Physicians take internal carotid stenosis very seriously, especially when people with this condition develop symptoms such as ministrokes. The guidelines for carotid stenosis surgery as of the year 2007 indicate that only people who have experienced symptoms and who also have at least 70% narrowing of one the internal carotid arteries should be considered optimal candidates carotid stenosis surgery. This procedure can significantly reduce the risk of future stroke in these people.

Like all surgeries, carotid endarterectomy poses some risks, depending on the general health of the patient. Learn more about this surgery, its risks and its alternatives, in this short article about carotid stenosis surgery.


Bradley G Walter, Daroff B Robert, Fenichel M Gerald, Jancovic, Joseph Neurology in clinical practice, principles of diagnosis and management. Fourth Edition, Philadelphia Elsevier, 2004.

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