New, less-invasive option for veterans susceptible to stroke

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 5:53 PM EDT
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - Veterans who are susceptible to having a stroke now have a new surgical option available to them at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction.

“Our first TCAR or transcarotid artery revascularization here at White River,” Dr. David Stone said.

Stone is the vascular surgeon who recently performed the surgery. He splits his time between the VA and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

“This is a way we can treat patients who have blockage or atherosclerosis in their carotid artery which is the main artery that feeds the brain and that can be a risk factor for having a stroke,” Stone explained.

Edward Sorensen, a Navy veteran, was the patient.

“My artery on my neck was not getting any blood to my brain,” Sorensen said.

Over time, due to a variety of factors, plaque can build up on the arteries, preventing proper blood flow.

Sorensen met with Stone to go over possible options.

“He said there are several operations. They can cut your neck, I can do it. Otherwise, I’d like to try a new one on you. And I said, you feel good about it, fine, I’ll go for it,” Sorensen said.

The less-invasive route which inserts a stent inside the artery rather than cutting it open and scraping out the plaque speeds up recovery times.

“Oh yeah, I feel fine. I actually felt fine the day after the operation. I feel great,” Sorensen said.

VA officials say they feel great knowing that the surgery is now available to veterans.

“It offers now a complimentary spectrum of service that a lot of nonveteran patients have access to when they go to a university hospital or center of excellence,” Stone said.

Doctors say now that the first surgery is in the history books, the procedure will likely become more and more common moving forward.

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