Carotid Artery Endarterectomy
DefinitionThe carotid artery carries blood through the neck to the brain. Blockage of this artery can lead to brain damage called a stroke . A carotid artery endarterectomy is a surgery to remove the deposits from this artery. Deposits in arteries result in plaque. This can slow and even stop blood from flowing through the artery.
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Reasons for ProcedureThis procedure helps to restore proper blood flow to the brain. This will help to prevent strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). TIAs are mini-strokes and considered a warning sign for a future stroke.
Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Damage to the carotid artery
- High blood pressure or low blood pressure
- Nerve injury in the neck
- The degree of blockage in your carotid artery
- Blockage of the carotid arteries on both sides of your neck
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureYour doctor may do the following:
- Blood and urine tests
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)—a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
- Imaging tests to assess the arteries include:
- General anesthesia will keep you asleep during the procedure
- Local anesthesia—the area will be numbed
Description of the ProcedureYou will lie flat on a table. A roll will be placed under your shoulder. Your head will be turned to the side. A cut in the skin will be made along the side of the neck. The cut will run from just behind the ear to a point above the breastbone. Clamps will be placed above and below the plaque on the carotid artery. In some cases, a temporary bypass tube will be used to maintain blood flow around the area that is being operated on.The artery will be opened and cleaned of plaque. The artery will then be sewn back together. The clamps, and bypass tube, if used, will then be removed. A section of the carotid artery may need to be removed. In this case, an artificial graft or a segment of vein will be sewn in to replace it. The neck incision will be closed with stitches.
Immediately After ProcedureAn arteriogram may be done to ensure that there are no complications, such as blood clots or narrowing. You may be given medication to help prevent blood clotting.
How Long Will It Take?2-4 hours
How Much Will It Hurt?Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital StayThe usual length of stay is 1-3 days. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications occur.
Post-procedure CareAt Home It may take up to 2 weeks to recover. Slowly return to normal activity as tolerated. You may be referred to a dietitian who can help with dietary changes. These changes will help prevent a return of plaque build-up. Changes focus on a diet low in saturated fat . Make sure your diet is high in fruits, vegetables , grains , and fish.