Holy Cross Health is now treating carotid artery disease and preventing future strokes with the new procedure, TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR – pronounced tee-kahr). TCAR is a clinically proven, patient-friendly treatment option that utilizes temporary flow reversal during direct, transcarotid stent placement to provide neuroprotection in a more efficient and less invasive approach.

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, the usually silent carotid artery disease is responsible for up to one-third of strokes.

“Every 40 seconds someone suffers a stroke in the U.S. and that didn’t stop during COVID,” said neuroendovascular surgeon Andrey Lima, M.D. at the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at Holy Cross Health. “More than 20,000 procedures have been performed worldwide through clinical trial and commercial use of TCAR and the clinical data has been excellent.”

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 stent is then placed inside the artery to stabilize the plaque, minimizing the risk of a future stroke.

Prior to TCAR, the main treatment option 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, including bleeding, infection, heart attack and cranial nerve injuries that can cause issues with swallowing, speaking and sensation in the face.

When compared to open surgery, TCAR has shown to provide exceptional stroke prevention, less risk of heart attack and nerve injury and is a shorter procedure. It is well-suited for patients who are at higher risk of surgical complications due to age, medical co-morbidities or anatomical issues.

More than 400,000 new diagnoses of carotid artery disease are made in the U.S. annually. Risk factors for carotid artery disease are a family history of metabolic syndrome, older age, lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet, clogged arteries and a history of smoking.

“Up to 80% of strokes are preventable,” said vascular surgeon Handel Robinson, M.D. at the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at Holy Cross Health. “Eliminating or minimizing the risks and speaking to your doctor to see if you qualify for screening could possibly save your life.”

To schedule a consultation and learn more about the TCAR procedure, please call the Phil Smith Neuroscience Institute at 954-414-9750.