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Carotid stenting, when used with angioplasty, is a relatively new procedure especially helpful for patients with a blocked or narrowed carotid artery who would not be good candidates for surgery.

The physician accesses the patient's femoral artery through a tiny incision in the groin and threads a catheter up into the patient's neck. Next, the physician inserts a guide wire into the narrowed portion of the carotid artery, clearing plaque buildup if necessary. A tiny balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to push the narrowed artery open and restore blood flow.

Next, the stent, a flexible metal sheath, is placed in the narrowed portion to keep the artery open and is fastened in place. Any debris caused by the procedure is carefully removed before the physician retracts the guide wire and catheter.

After the procedure, the patient is monitored to ensure that the stent is working well and no complications occur. In many cases, the patient goes home the day after the procedure and may resume normal activities.