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Stroke

Fiance`s carotid artery

08/23/2007

Question:

My fiance was recently told she has only one carotid artery. I have not been able to find any information out about this topic and was wondering if this is something that I should worry about or anything I should look for. I thank you for all your help and any information at all would be greatly appreciated.

Answer:

With the information provided, I cannot answer your question. The common carotid artery is one of the larger blood vessels bringing blood to the head, and common carotids are typically found bilaterally (one on the right side and one on the left side of the neck, in the anterior or front region of the neck). Each common carotid artery divides into the external and internal carotid arteries, which bring blood to the structures outside and inside the skull respectively. The internal carotid artery supplies the hemisphere on that side of the brain, along with blood from the vertebro-basilar arterial system which is the circulation going to the brain from the back of the neck. These 3 arterial systems (bilateral internal carotids and basilar artery) are able to help each other out in supplying the brain—if for some reason one of the carotid arteries is not present or is occluded, blood from the other carotid or the vertebro-basilar system can supply blood to the territory supplied by the absent of occluded carotid artery. Thus, the absence or blockage of one carotid artery may not be a problem that will immediately cause a stroke or other major problem. I hope this general information is helpful to you. If you want to understand more about what the situation actually is for your fiancée, it would be best if you both would discuss with your local physicians.

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Response by:

Brett   Kissela, MD Brett Kissela, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Director, Neurology Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati