The carotid arteries in the neck are two of the most important blood vessels that supply the brain. With the disease atherosclerosis, where a waxy plaque builds up inside the arteries, blood flow to the brain can be compromised and brain function can decrease too. Surgeons treat this problem with a procedure called carotid endarterectomy; they make an incision in the neck, open the artery length-wise and remove the plaque directly.
Dr. E. Sander Connolly, director of the cerebrovascular research laboratory at Columbia University Medical Center, set out to see if this procedure would also result in an improvement of brain function. His research confirmed that there was an increase in blood flow to the brain and patients also had improved cognitive performance as early as one day after a carotid endarterectomy.
These results are explained in the paper*, Middle cerebral artery pulsatility index and cognitive improvement after carotid endarterectomy for symptomatic stenosis, published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.
Read more about this research online here or in J Neurosurg. 2014 Jan;120(1):126-31.
*Authors of this paper include: Heyer EJ, Mergeche JL, and Connolly ES Jr.
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