April 03, 2014
Madeleine Nathan suffered a minor stroke, and that just might have saved her life. Follow-up tests showed serious blockages in her carotid arteries and she opted for a minimally invasive treatment called carotid artery stenting to improve blood flow to her brain.
Her physician, Dr. Zahi Nassoura is one of few vascular surgeons in the San Fernando Valley certified to perform the procedure, an alternative to the traditional surgical method. “It’s a newer and better approach in many cases where there are blockages,” said Dr. Nassoura.
Carotid artery stenting involves a small incision to the groin where a catheter tipped with a balloon is inserted and guided to the blockage in the neck where it essentially flattens the plaque. The stent, a small mesh tube, is maneuvered to wedge the artery open, improving blood flow to the brain. This is performed under local anesthesia and because the procedure is minimally invasive, there is little pain and recovery is quicker.
The traditional surgical method of removing blockages is called carotid endarterectomy. The surgeon makes an incision in the neck and removes the thickened areas of the artery, under either general or local anesthesia.
Nathan, 70, of Woodland Hills, had a stent placed in her left carotid two years ago to open a 70 percent blockage. The right side, too, was subsequently cleared of plaque. “I’m feeling good now,” she said. “I didn’t know anything was wrong and I’m so glad they found it early.”
Dr. Nassoura has performed the procedure on patients who have suffered strokes and are in danger of another stroke.