How you prepare

Before a scheduled angioplasty, your doctor reviews your medical history and performs a physical exam. You may also have one or more of the following examinations:

  • Ultrasound. A scanner passes over the carotid artery to produce images using sound waves of the narrowed artery and of the blood flow to the brain.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) or computerized tomography angiography (CTA). These exams provide highly detailed images of blood vessels by using either radiofrequency waves in a magnetic field or by using X-rays with contrast material.
  • Carotid angiography. During this exam, contrast material (visible on X-rays) is injected into an artery to better see and examine the blood vessels.

Food and medications

You'll receive instructions on what you can or can't eat or drink before angioplasty. Your preparation may be different if you're already staying at the hospital before your procedure.

The night before your procedure:

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about adjusting your current medications. Your doctor may instruct you to stop taking certain medications before angioplasty, particularly if you take certain diabetes medications or blood thinners.
  • Take approved medications with only small sips of water.
  • Arrange for transportation home. Angioplasty usually requires an overnight hospital stay, and you won't be able to drive yourself home the next day because of lingering effects of the sedative.