Surgery or angioplasty for opening a clogged neck artery?

For now, surgery is the best choice for most people with a narrowed carotid artery.

Artery-opening balloons and the tiny, wire-mesh cages known as stents offer a safe, effective alternative to bypass surgery for treating cholesterol-clogged arteries that feed the heart. A few inches higher, in the arteries that supply the brain, it's not yet clear if stents rival surgery. It isn't that angioplasty doesn't open narrowed carotid arteries. It does. "What's missing is the evidence to show that carotid angioplasty is the equivalent of surgery in different groups of people," says Dr. Marc Schermerhorn, chief of endovascular surgery at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »