Unclogged arteries

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Each year, more than 300,000 people in the US are diagnosed with carotid artery disease. If left unchecked, it can lead to stroke. Now, vascular surgeons are using a minimally-invasive procedure to stent the carotid artery and prevent strokes; all done while the patient is still awake. 

Strokes run in Frank Leuzzi's family, so when doctors discovered a 90% blockage in his left carotid artery, he became a clinical trial patient for Transcarotid Artery Revascularization or 'T-CAR,' for short.

Dr. Paul Dimuzio, Professor of Surgery, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital says, "We do it completely under local, the patient is completely awake. And we put the sheath directly into the carotid right through there on either side." 

This groundbreaking procedure eliminates the need to go through the groin. Instead, surgeons use a small clavicle incision to implant the stent and open up blood flow. 

Dr. Dimuzio says,"It's still technically demanding. We have to be very careful not to cause any dislodging of the plaque. But the way it protects the brain while we're doing the stent is called flow reversal."

The stent is deployed and for patients like frank, who lost his father to a stroke, it's a quick lifesaving procedure. He was awake during the whole surgery and he recovered very quickly.  

Marianne Leuzzi Rossini, Frank's daughter says, "This new procedure, within a week, week and a half; he was totally back to normal. He never complained of being in pain, didn't even take Tylenol. You feel better so much faster. I see how my dad did and it's wonderful."

The signs of a stroke include a change in vision or speech and weakness on one side of the body. Strokes do run in the family.  


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