Surgery or angioplasty for opening a clogged neck artery?

Published: February, 2008

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.

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