Risks

With any medical procedure, complications might happen. Here are some of the possible complications of carotid angioplasty and stenting:

  • Stroke or ministroke (transient ischemic attack, or TIA). During angioplasty, blood clots that may form on the catheters can break loose and travel to your brain. You'll receive blood thinners during the procedure to reduce this risk.

    A stroke can also occur if plaque in your artery is dislodged when the catheters are being threaded through the blood vessels.

  • New narrowing of the carotid artery (restenosis). A major drawback of carotid angioplasty is the chance that your artery will narrow again within months of the procedure. Special drug-coated stents have been developed to reduce the risk of restenosis.
  • Blood clots. Blood clots can form within stents even weeks or months after angioplasty. These clots may cause a stroke or death. It's important to take aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix) and other medications exactly as prescribed to decrease the chance of clots forming in your stent.
  • Bleeding. You may have bleeding at the site in your groin where catheters were inserted. Usually this simply results in a bruise, but sometimes serious bleeding occurs and may require a blood transfusion or surgical procedures.