The CMS expanded coverage of carotid artery stenting for patients at high risk of stroke and at high risk of complications during surgery. The decision is effective immediately but limited to hospitals and providers that the CMS has determined to be competent at performing the procedure. Previously, Medicare covered carotid artery stenting in clinical trials prior to Food and Drug Administration approval and later in FDA-required post-approval studies. Guidant Corp., which is in the midst of regulatory approvals to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson, is the only company with an FDA-approved carotid stent. During carotid-artery surgery, the surgeon removes fatty deposits from the two carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain. In a less invasive procedure, a catheter is used to place a stent to widen the diseased artery. CMS coverage decisions are available at cms.hhs.gov/coverage. -- by Cinda Becker
Medicare to cover carotid stenting for certain patients
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