Intra Cranial Stenosis

Intracranial stenosis is the narrowing or constriction of the inner surface, lumen, of an artery within the brain.  Most commonly it is caused by a buildup of plaque, called atherosclerosis.  The biggest risk of intracranial stenosis is a stroke.

Plaque can block blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke by

  • Building up and severely narrowing or occluding an artery
  • Damaging the walls of the artery and causing blood clots to form
  • Breaking away and traveling down the artery and lodging in a smaller artery.


The symptoms of intracranial stenosis are Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and Stroke.  Both stroke and TIA present very similarly and the best way to spot a stroke is follow this principle

F: Face Drooping.  Look for an uneven smile

A: Arm Weakness.

S: Speech Difficulty.  Slurred speech

T: Time to call.  Call 911 right away if you or an individual has any of these symptoms

A TIA, also known as a mini stroke is when the blood flow to the brain is briefly interrupted and then restored. Generally any symptoms rectify themselves in minutes.  They are a significant warning for a major ischemic stroke and or permanent brain injury and should not be taken lightly.


Maintaining and/or improving blood flow to the brain is the goal of any treatment.

Medication:  may include anticoagulants (blood thinners), cholesterol lowering medications and/or blood pressure lowering medications

Surgery: If medical treatment fails surgery may be the best option to reduce or remove plaque buildup and enlarge the artery.

  • Balloon Angioplasty/stent:
  • Cerebral Artery Bypass:

References: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Barrow Neurological Institute, National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, National Institute of Health, National Stroke Association.

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