|December 11, 2012||Posted by admin under Aneurysm|
A carotid aneurysm gets its name from its location on the carotid artery in the neck. The vascular system is a network of blood vessels, including veins, arteries, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.
If you’ve ever noticed a bulge or bubble in a bike or car tire due to a weak area or broken bands, you’ll understand what an aneurysm is. It is nothing more than a weakness in the walls of an artery and it bulges out to form a blister or ballooning of the artery.
Doctors have many different names for arteries. Arteries have several layers so some aneurysms have names describing whether all the layers bulge or just the outer layer remains. Aneurysms also get their name from their shape.
The carotid is a large artery on each side of the neck that supplies blood to the head. Most people know the dangers of tobacco and its use linked to the development of lung cancer. Additionally, smoking is also a major risk factor for developing vascular diseases. When a person uses tobacco, plaque builds up on artery and vein walls. This buildup prevents the proper flow of blood, which can lead to serious conditions such as carotid aneurysm.
Causes of Carotid Aneurysm
The carotid arteries supply blood to the neck, face, brain, and scalp. A carotid occurs when plaque builds up in these arteries. Plaque buildup weakens and narrows the arteries making it difficult for blood to get to the brain, which can lead to a stroke. In fact, carotid aneurysms cause over than half of all strokes suffered in the US.
Signs and symptoms
A carotid aneurysm usually does not cause symptoms, which is why it is important for your doctor to listen carefully to your neck during routine physicals. It may be surprising to hear that most people with symptoms of a stroke severe enough to send them to the hospital don’t know the cause of their illness until they have been told the diagnosis. Recognizing the signs of a stroke is important because getting medical attention as soon as possible permits early treatment that can reduce long-term complications.
Despite the invention of sophisticated technology, the old-fashioned stethoscope remains an important diagnostic tool. It is important for the doctor to place it over the arteries in your neck to listen for a sound generated by blood flowing through a narrowed artery. In this case, the carotids that carry the blood from the heart through the neck into the brain. When one or both of these arteries are significantly narrowed, you are at risk for having a stroke.
If your doctor hears a medically significant sound using the stethoscope, and suspects carotid, the next step is to order a carotid sonogram. This will determine the degree of blockage.
Surgical treatment options for carotid aneurysm are usually procedures called coiling or clipping. Clipping is a medical procedure where an incision is made and a small clip is placed over the carotid. The purpose is to prevent blood flow into the aneurysm in the prevention of a possible rupture.
There are several treatments available. Surgical repair by replacing the section of artery with a vein from the leg is one. Another surgical procedure grafts a piece of polyester or Gortex onto the weakened area. A third method is the stent-graft repair where surgeons repair the artery from the inside. They enter the artery through the groin, and insert a stent-graft into the area using catheters to deliver it. The surgeon expands the graft to cover the interior of the aneurysm and uses metal hooks to hold it in place.
Coiling is another option where a thin tube is placed into the femoral artery, which is located in the groin and maneuvered into the carotid artery. This is normally done under X-ray imaging. Although, both procedures have similar rates of success, the recovery rate for coiling is typically faster.
Smoking is a risk factor in the occurrence of carotid aneurysm, which can lead to a stroke. If you use tobacco, there are many sources available to help you quit. Ask your doctor for advice. Prescription medications like Zyban and Chantix help reduce nicotine cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms that most people experience with they try to quit smoking. There are also replacement therapies such as the patch, gum, lozenges, inhaler, and nasal spray that are designed to maintain a steady level of nicotine in your system, which helps lessen withdrawals.
Some carotid aneurysms are preventable and others aren’t. Occasionally these aneurysms come from injury or infection. Sometimes a genetic predisposition for aneurysms causes them to occur. High blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking are all factors that may contribute to the formation of the carotid aneurysm.