Following your assessment and initial treatment in the hospital emergency department, it may be necessary for you to be admitted directly to the hospital stroke unit.
The stroke unit is usually for those patients who need intensive treatment and rehabilitation.
Your care on the stroke unit will be undertaken by the multidisciplinary specialist stroke team. One of the first tasks for the stroke team is to assess your ability to swallow so that the right arrangements can be made for food and drink. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that this should happen within four hours of arrival at hospital.
To help you make a successful recovery, it is crucial that you are assessed quickly and your treatment is started.
Will I need surgery?
If a scan shows that your carotid arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the brain) have become blocked, or partially blocked, resulting in poor blood flow, you may be advised to have surgery to lower the risk of a major stroke.
If you have had a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) or mini-stroke, this can often be caused by a blocked carotid artery. In this case it is important to clear the blockage as quickly as possible and you may be advised to have surgery the next day. If the scan indicates that surgery is necessary but less urgent, then you can expect to have an operation within two weeks.
If you have had a stroke and your scan indicates that surgery is necessary, then you will need to be well enough to undergo the operation. This will be discussed with you and the vascular surgeon, who will arrange a date for surgery with you.
There are three types of surgical procedure for the treatment of stroke. These are:
- carotid endarterectomy - an operation under general anaesthetic to remove the inner lining of the carotid artery (a blood vessel in the neck) and improve blood flow.
- carotid stenting - a procedure carried out under local anaesthetic in which your vascular surgeon inserts a slender, metal-mesh tube, called a stent, which expands inside your carotid artery to increase blood flow.
- carotid angioplasty - a procedure carried out under local anaesthetic in which your vascular surgeon temporarily inserts and inflates a tiny balloon to open up the carotid artery and increase blood flow.
If it is decided that surgery is the best treatment for you following your stroke or TIA, the specialist stroke team and the vascular surgeon will discuss with you the best procedure for your circumstances.