Carotid stent: Bradycardia prevention

Physiology - Cardiovascular

During carotid angioplasty and stenting, a tiny balloon is inserted to widen the lumen of a stenotic carotid artery, and small metal stent is placed to prop it open and decrease the chance of restenosis. During and after this procedure, the normal carotid baroreceptor reflex mechanism may produce a physiologically-inappropriate response.

This reflex can be triggered when baroreceptors in the carotid sinus are stretched by the balloon and stent. This may cause a sudden inappropriate bradycardia and systemic hypotension, and these patients may require immediate treatment to restore normal heart rate and blood pressure. The vagolytic action of anticholinergic drugs like atropine and glycopyrrolate can be effective in reversing or preventing unwanted bradycardia. Some anesthesiologists will administer medication preemptively in anticipation of carotid sinus stimulation, and this has been shown to decrease the incidence of intraoperative bradycardia and cardiac morbidity[1].


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Jacob Nadler, MD, PhD