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Care for Carotid Artery Disease at University of Colorado Hospital

Why Choose Treatment for Carotid Artery Disease at UCH?

University of Colorado Hospital is the first hospital in the Denver area to use new, minimally invasive treatments for carotid artery disease.

We also are one of the first and few centers in the state to obtain Medicare designation to perform this procedure.

Medical Team

At University of Colorado Hospital, your medical team may include the following heart, neurology and radiology specialists.


Carotid Artery Disease Specialists

Anesthesiologist - a doctor trained to administer medication to patients during surgery or other procedures.

Interventional radiologist – a doctor who specializes in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging for guidance

Neurologist - a doctor who specializes in study and treatment of the nervous system

Neurosurgeon - a doctor who performs surgical procedures on the nervous system

Vascular surgeon - a doctor who specializes in surgical repair of blood vessels.


Other Carotid Artery Disease Staff

Case manager - a provider who manages and coordinates the care of patients between different departments

Nurse practitioner - a registered nurse who has completed advanced education and training in the diagnosis and management of common medical conditions, including chronic illnesses

Registered nurses - nurses licensed in the state of Colorado who conducts medical evaluations, takes patient histories and provides ongoing care for patients

Radiology technician - a technician who creates radiographic images of the body that help to diagnose and treat illnesses.


You may not be aware that you have carotid artery disease. Your doctor will give you a preliminary exam to determine if you need tests that show the condition of your carotid artery.

There are several tests available, depending on your circumstances.


Ultrasound uses a wand that emits high-frequency sound waves to painlessly show how well blood is flowing through the carotid artery.

CT Scan

Computerized tomography (CT) scans take X-ray pictures that appear as slices of the carotid artery and of the brain. The pictures allow your doctor to identify areas of poor blood flow.

CT Angiography

A CT angiography (CTA) is a CT scan that includes X-ray dye that your doctor injects to make the blood vessels stand out for viewing.


Angioplasty and Stenting

Your doctor may be able to clear your carotid artery with a minimally invasive procedure, using angioplasty and a process called stenting.


This close-up view of a stent shows its
lattice-like support structure.

Stenting involves your doctor threading in your artery a very thin, flexible tube, called a catheter, that carries a small balloon. The balloon opens and closes, flattening any plaque against the artery walls.

Your doctor then inserts a wire mesh tube called a stent into the artery. The stent expands to keep the artery open, allowing blood to flow freely.


If the blockage in your artery is severe, you may need surgery to clean out the plaque that is causing the problem. In this procedure, your surgeon:

  • Makes an incision
  • Finds the blockage
  • Places a tube called a shunt to redirect the blood flow
  • Removes the plaque with a special tool

Once the artery is clean, the surgeon removes the shunt and closes the incision.

Patient Education

Living With Carotid Artery Disease

If you have carotid artery disease, you can help in managing your own care by:

  • Managing your diet (for example, by controlling cholesterol intake)
  • Exercising regularly
  • Not smoking
  • Controlling your blood pressure

Getting a Second Opinion about Carotid Artery Disease

The doctors and staff of the UCH Cardiac & Vascular Center are happy to provide second opinions for patients who have symptoms of or are diagnosed with carotid artery disease.

Carotid Artery Disease Support Groups

University of Colorado Hospital Stroke Support Group
(720) 848-5300

Heart checkup

Carotid Artery Disease at a Glance

Carotid artery disease occurs when fatty deposits collect along the walls of the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain and to the face.

These deposits cause the arteries to thicken and harden, restricting or stopping blood flow.

Stoppages of the blood flow to the brain result in a stroke. Strokes also can be caused by blood clots in the carotid artery and by pieces of hardened deposits (plaque) that break off and move through the bloodstream to the brain.

Risks for carotid artery disease

  • Family history of the disease, or of coronary artery disease (blockages of the arteries leading to the heart)
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Inactivity

Carotid Artery Disease Research

Research efforts at University of Colorado Hospital allow us to provide patients with the latest medical and surgical options – options that are often not available elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region.

We are world leaders in developing medical and device therapies to improve your heart function and quality of life.

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