Why It’s Done
What Is a Carotid Endarterectomy?
A carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure to open or clean the carotid artery, with the goal of stroke prevention.
It is a durable procedure but not a cure. Though rare, blockage can accumulate again.
Who Is a Candidate for Carotid Endarterectomy?
Your doctor may recommend a carotid endarterectomy if you have:
- A moderate (50%-79%) blockage of a carotid artery and experiencing symptoms such as stroke, mini-stroke, or TIA
- A severe (80% or more) blockage even if you have no symptoms
You will receive anesthesia, and your vascular surgeon will make an incision at the front of your neck. After removing the plaque from your artery, the surgeon will repair the artery by stitching in a natural graft or woven patch. After, the incision is closed.
What Are the Possible Risks of the Procedure?
With any procedure there are risks. Some of the risks include:
- Heart attack
- Nerve damage
Before the Procedure
How to Prepare
- Discuss your condition with those you have designated to participate in medical decisions
- Ask your vascular surgeon whether to continue or modify scheduled medications
After the Procedure
What to Expect After the Procedure
Depending on you medication condition, you may go home the same day or stay 1–2 nights after the procedure.
After the procedure you may have a sore throat and the skin around the incision on your neck will be numb. Please note, this will heal over time.
Before returning to your normal diet, you will need to eat smooth, soft foods for awhile.
Once pain medication is stopped, driving is usually permitted. This will also depend on how easily you can turn your head to check your surroundings on the road and safely merge with traffic.
You will see your vascular surgeon and have a carotid ultrasound to look at the artery. This will be done yearly to make sure the plaque has not accumulated again.