SSM Health Medical Minute – TCAR is newest option for carotid artery disease

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – Carotid artery disease is a build-up of plaque in the two main arteries of the neck, which are vital in feeding oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, they begin to narrow and slow down blood flow, potentially causing a stroke.

Carotid artery disease is estimated to be the source of stroke in up to a third of cases.

At SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – St. Charles, Dr. Thomas “TJ” Schneider, a vascular surgeon, is offering a new technology called TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) to treat patients with carotid artery disease who are at risk for traditional open surgery. The procedure is targeted to high-risk patients, as a clinically proven, less invasive alternative to help prevent future strokes.

“It is the most revolutionary technology in vascular surgery in the last 5 years,” says Dr. Schneider.

Schneider says SSM Health has been aggressively adopting new technology to bring better outcomes for patients. TCAR is only offered in a few hospitals in St. Louis, and St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles is the only hospital in St. Charles using TCAR for patients. They have done the procedures about six times and every patient has had immediate and incredible results.

How the procedure works: A sheath is inserted directly into the carotid artery through a small incision at the neckline, creating a reversal of blood flow. Any debris or clots that dislodge from the artery during the procedure flow away from the brain into a filter system outside of the body. Doctors can safely insert the stent to open blood flow and prevent future strokes, then filter the blood and return it back into the body through a vein in the groin, remove the sheath and close the hole in the artery and neck.

TCAR is a safe procedure that has been extensively studied and cleared by the FDA. More than 10,000 procedures have been done worldwide. Results from clinical trials show that TCAR has the lowest reported risk of stroke to date for any prospective carotid stenting.

How do you know if someone has carotid artery disease? Carotid artery disease is often silent and does not present with symptoms. Physicians can screen patients based on risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. Certainly, if you are having stroke-like symptoms (weakness/numbness on one side, loss of eyesight/speech, dizziness or fainting), you should seek immediate medical attention and be evaluated for carotid artery disease. To find a heart and vascular specialist, click here.

To learn more about TCAR and if you are eligible, click here.

The Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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