What is a carotid artery aneurysm?
A carotid artery aneurysm is an abnormal swelling in the wall of the carotid artery. The carotid artery is the large artery which takes blood from the heart to the head.
What are the symptoms of carotid artery aneurysms?
Symptoms of a carotid artery aneurysm include transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). These TIAs are mini-strokes or episodes in which a person develops symptoms of strokes that resolve completely after a short duration. These symptoms of TIAs include blurred vision and numbness of the face, arms or legs.
Persons with carotid artery aneurysms can also develop strokes and present with symptoms like drooping of the face, difficulty talking and weakness of the arm or leg.
As the aneurysm grows and becomes larger, it can press on other structures in the neck and cause symptoms like hoarseness of the voice, difficulty swallowing and swelling of the face.
What are the causes of carotid artery aneurysms?
Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of carotid artery aneurysms. This condition is caused by the deposition of fatty material in the walls of blood vessels.
Other causes of these aneurysms include penetrating and blunt trauma to the neck which can occur after motor vehicle accidents. Birth defects can lead to the development of weakened arteries which are prone to ballooning.
How does carotid artery aneurysm surgery work?
Carotid artery aneurysms are usually treated surgically by removing the abnormal section of the wall and placing a conduit to bypass that section. This conduit if often created from veins removed from the patient’s legs or arteries taken from other parts of their body. A man-made graft can also be used.
The surgeon can also use x-rays to guide a stent and graft to the site of the aneurysm and expand it once it is in the correct position inside the artery. This stent and graft reinforces the artery wall and prevents the aneurysm from rupturing.