TCAR stands for transcarotid artery revascularization. TCAR is a minimally invasive procedure to help treat those who have potentially life threatening plaque buildup within the carotid arteries (carotid artery disease). The TCAR procedure does its optimal best to protect the brain by temporarily reversing blood flow, which lowers the patient’s risk of suffering from a stroke.
Carotid artery disease can lead to stroke and is in fact one of the main causes of a stroke. Plaque builds up in the arteries, which blocks the oxygen flow to the brain.
Individuals who have carotid artery disease may experience some of the following symptoms:
Temporary loss of vision
Loss of feeling in the face or other limbs
Issues speaking or understanding
An open surgery can be used to help treat carotid artery disease. However, this method of treatment can cause the patient to become a high risk for complications. That is why the TCAR procedure is a suitable, less invasive form of treatment that is clinically proven to reduce the risk of stroke in patients.
The TCAR Procedure
In order for your surgeon to begin, you must be placed under anesthesia. Once the neck area is fully anesthetized, an extremely small incision is made to reveal the carotid artery. A loop is placed on the artery to keep it held down in place. Sutures are placed early in the procedure on the artery to improve the efficiency of the entire treatment. It is ideal for the sutures to be closed as soon as the procedure is over.
Once the carotid artery has been revealed, a small sheath is placed through the incision site that is connected to the device (neuroprotection system) that helps reverse blood flow. Once blood flow reversal is turned on, the neuroprotection system gives the operator control over the blood flow rate while the procedure is ongoing. After the reversal of blood flow is complete, the sheath will deliver the stent needed to break up, stabilize the plaque, and open the artery to further reduce the risk of stroke. During this time, a balloon catheter may be used to expand the stent. Plaque that may come loose is captured by a device to keep it from entering other parts of the arteries.
After the stent is placed successfully, the neuroprotection system is turned off and blood flow returns to normal and the sutures from before are used to close the vessel. From there, the incision site is also closed and the patient can now enter the recovery zone.
Before the Procedure
Preparing for TAVR
You should always discuss with your doctor any current medications you are on. Ask before attempting to take anything new or before you decide to stop taking your medications altogether.
While speaking to your doctor, it may also be a good time to discuss your diet before and after your procedure. Tests may need to be run before your procedure to ensure that you are in good condition to undergo anesthesia.
What are the possible risks of the procedure?
Some of the risks TCAR carries includes surgical complications and potential nerve damage near the incision site.
After the Procedure
Recovery time for a TCAR procedure is fairly quick compared to having an open procedure. Pain should be minimal and you should be allowed to leave the hospital the next day. Speak to your doctor about taking any medications for pain management or otherwise.
It is highly important that you keep up with your follow-up appointments and relay any comments, questions, or concerns you have with your vascular surgeon.
Importance of a Heart-healthy Lifestyle
It will be encouraged following your TCAR procedure that you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and quitting harmful habits such as smoking and excess usage of alcohol. These tips along with advice from your doctor can help lead you towards a healthier tomorrow.