It’s pretty amazing when advancements in medical technology and vascular surgical techniques result in faster recovery, smaller scars, less pain and significantly reduced danger of damage to your brain. McLeod Vascular Surgeon Christopher Cunningham, MD, explains just such an advancement, the TransCarotid Arterial Revascularization or TCAR (pronounced Tee-car).
Here’s a summary of Dr. Cunningham’s description of the benefits of TCAR:
TCAR is a procedure that is going to be performed with great regularity over the next several years. Here’s why:
When this technology was compared in clinical trials against carotid endarterectomy, classic surgery or other forms of carotid stenting, it far surpassed them in outcomes.
If I’m going to operate to prevent a stroke, preventing a stroke is the most important thing I can do. TCAR is probably the safest procedure to fix and open the carotid artery, while avoiding a stroke.
Other benefits of the TCAR procedure include: It can be performed under local anesthesia. Many older patients are poor risk for a general anesthetic. They may have very severe underlying pulmonary disease or had a recent heart attack. There are a large number of high-risk patients that can be treated using TCAR that couldn’t be before using previous surgical techniques.
TCAR uses a small incision just above the collarbone instead of a large, visible incision on the neck. It heals with all the stitches below the skin, leaving little or no scar.
During the procedure, the blood flow is reversed, so it is directed away from the brain. The blood goes through a filter that catches pieces that break loose, even very small, micro emboli.
The recovery time for this procedure is very short, because of the very small incision. There are no muscles, tendons or body cavities that are cut. The procedure causes minimal discomfort and is in an area that virtually never develops infections. It is one of the easiest postoperative recovery there is. People feel fine the next day being able to return to activities such as playing golf later in the week. For reasons of safety, I recommend people don’t drive or use dangerous machinery for at least one week after the procedure.