RICHMOND, Va. -- As a former firefighter, Daryl Cain knew something was terribly wrong last July when he began to feel stroke-like symptoms while driving his car.
"On July 16th of last year, I had what is a TIA- Transient Ischemic Attack- where I started getting numbness in the left side of my face and my left arm, my vision started getting fuzzy," Cain said.
Doctors diagnosed Cain with having a blood clot in his left carotid artery. The narrowing of the carotid artery, caused by the buildup of plaque, put Cain at an increased risk for a stroke.
"When you have blockages in your neck, a small piece of plaque can actually break off and when that breaks off, it goes to the brain," said Dr. Andrew Leake, a vascular surgeon at Henrico Doctors' Hospital.
In many cases, physicians are able to perform a Carotid Endarterectomy to treat blockages by removing the plaque of the arteries. However, the surgery can be high risk for certain patients, like Cain.
A lower risk option is a new procedure called TCAR or Trans Carotid Artery Revascularization. The procedure redirects the blood flow around the blockage so plaque can't break free during the surgery.
"We still place a stint like a standardized stint but we actually clamp the carotid artery and reverse the flow across the blockage... as opposed to going up through the brain," Leake said.
The newer procedure not only reduces the risk of stroke but it helps patients recover faster with less side effects of surgery.
"We're really adopting it and seeing good results," Leake said. "Patients are going home earlier and having significantly less pain."
Daryl Cain says he's back to good health and feeling confident.
"It's amazing what technology can do," Cain added.
BY TRACY SEARS