Extracranial Carotid Artery Aneurysm

Treating Cardiovascular Diseases in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois

An aneurysm occurs when part of an artery wall develops a bulge. The carotid arteries are located on either side of your neck and provide oxygen-rich blood to your brain. When an aneurysm forms in a carotid artery, it is known as an extracranial carotid artery aneurysm.

Aneurysms that don’t involve the aorta artery are known as peripheral aneurysms. Unlike aortic aneurysms, peripheral arteries seldom rupture or burst. However, blood clots tend to form in peripheral aneurysms. If a clot breaks away from the aneurysm, it can block blood flow through the artery. 

Carotid Artery Aneurysm Symptoms

Sometimes a carotid artery aneurysm doesn’t cause symptom. Other times, carotid artery aneurysm symptoms may include transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or stroke, which can occur when a clot breaks away from the aneurysm. As the aneurysm enlarges, it may also put pressure on neighboring structures, such as veins and nerves. When this occurs, symptoms may include facial swelling, hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.

Causes of Carotid Artery Aneurysms

Like aortic aneurysms, many conditions and factors can cause an aneurysm to form in a carotid artery. Examples include:

  • Aging
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Family history of aneurysms
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking

Diagnosing Carotid Aortic Aneurysms

Early diagnosis and treatment of a carotid artery aneurysm can help prevent stroke. If you are at risk for a carotid artery aneurysm or show symptoms of this condition, your doctor may recommend any of the following tests:

  • Angiography 
  • Computed tomography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 
  • Ultrasound testing, also known as echocardiography

Treating Carotid Artery Aneurysms

If the carotid aortic aneurysm is small and doesn’t have symptoms, your physician may simply monitor you condition every six to 12 months with diagnostic tests.

Your physician may also prescribe medications to lower your overall blood pressure and the pressure on the aneurysm. A statin may be prescribed to lower your cholesterol levels and maintain your blood vessel health.

If blood clots have formed, your doctor may inject clot-dissolving medication to dissolve the clots and restore normal blood flow.

If your condition requires additional treatment, you doctor may recommend carotid artery aneurysm surgery or endovascular stent grafting, which is performed inside your artery using catheters. 

A Leader in Treating Carotid Artery Aneurysms

Aurora Health Care offers you the best imaging technology to diagnose carotid artery aneurysms and a multidisciplinary approach for treating these conditions. We offer you access to some of the most respected experts in the field, who are ready to provide treatment plans just for you.

Aurora doctors are conveniently located throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Find a doctor or heart specialist near you. To get a second opinion or if you need assistance finding a provider, please call 888-649-6892.