Clearing carotid arteries

Every year, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with blockages in their carotid arteries, which can lead to a dangerous stroke.

Now, there is a new, safer way to clear these arteries.

Biff Yeager has been an actor for more than 40 years. It is a career about which he is passionate.

"I just like to make people feel," said Yeager.

But when he recently found out that he had a blockage in his carotid arteries, he had a new role to play…informed patient.

"I knew that if an artery was blocked, you could have brain damage or a stroke," he said.

Traditionally, doctors repaired the problem with open surgery or a riskier stenting procedure performed through the groin.

"Doing that particular approach for stenting carries twice the stroke risk as doing the open operation,” said Dr. Wesley Moore.

Now, with the silk road technique, surgeons enter directly through the neck to access the carotid arteries. To prevent pieces of debris from traveling to the brain, they temporarily reverse blood flow.

"So, if there are any bits of debris present, instead of going toward the brain, or into the brain, they go through a circuit external to the body, trapped in a filter,” Moore said.

A stent is placed to keep the artery open. Then, blood flow resumes to its normal direction.

Yeager stayed in the hospital just one night after his procedure. And now he can focus on landing that next part!

The new procedure doesn't require general anesthesia like the traditional, open surgery.

In clinical trials, results show the procedure is as safe as the standard operation. There are about 19 centers in the United States participating in the clinical trial to test this new method.


REPORT: MB #3713

BACKGROUND: Carotid artery disease is generally defined as the narrowing of the carotid arteries. This happens when cholesterol deposits and fatty substances, known as plaque, build-up in the arteries causing a narrow pathway. A carotid artery occlusion is when there is a complete blockage of the artery, which may put the patient at risk of a stroke. These arteries are two large blood vessels that supply the oxygenated blood to the front of the brain. This part of the brain controls motor functions, thinking, your personality, and your speech. If you are to place your fingers on each side of your neck below the jaw line, you can feel the pulse in the carotid arteries. (Source:

SYMPTOMS: Patients are usually unaware they have carotid artery disease until they have a stroke. Signs that you may have carotid artery disease include:
* Dizziness or loss of balance
* Trouble speaking and understanding
* Severe headaches with an unknown cause
* Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
* Numbness or weakness in face or limbs (Source:

SILK ROAD PROCEDURE: This new technique was created to protect the brain from stroke risk during carotid artery stenting. It allows doctors to deliver a stent directly from the neck. This is intended to avoid complications associated with starting from the femoral artery in the groin, which is typically used in carotid artery stenting procedures. To provide protection for the patient's brain during the entire procedure, the Silk Road system temporarily reverses blood flow in order to move any debris away from the brain. A worldwide clinical trial called ROADSTER is now underway to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Silk Road system in patients who are at high surgical risk and have either symptomatic or asymptomatic carotid artery disease. If you have carotid artery disease and your physician has told you that you are at high risk for surgical treatment (carotid endarterectomy), you may be eligible to participate in the ROADSTER trial. Several factors may increase your risk of surgery, including age and other medical conditions you may suffer from. (Source:

For patients outside the Western U.S.:
Silk Road Medical
(408) 720-9002

For patients in the Western U.S.:
Wesley Moore, MD
Professor and Chief Emeritus, Division of Vascular Surgery
(310) 825-9641

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 234788221 -
Gray Television, Inc.