Carotid Endarterectomy

What is carotid endarterectomy?

Carotid endarterectomy is the most common procedure for treating carotid artery disease. If there is a buildup of fatty deposits in the carotid arteries (the main arteries on both sides of the neck), the buildup can prevent blood from flowing to the brain and can ultimately lead to stroke.

Certain diagnostic procedures such as a carotid ultrasound can help your doctor determine how much blockage you have. Candidates for endarterectomy are generally people who have:

  • 50 to 79 percent blockage and also have symptoms of stroke, mini-stroke, and trans ischemic attack
  • 80 percent blockage with no accompanying symptoms

The more blockage or "narrowing" of the arteries, the higher your risk for stroke.

If it is determined that carotid endarterectomy is the most appropriate treatment for you, your doctor will go over the procedure and help you prepare for surgery and recovery.

What to expect from carotid endarterectomy surgery

The surgery is done under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep and will feel no pain. The surgeon makes an incision in the front of your neck through which he or she is able remove plaque from the carotid artery or arteries. Once the plaque is removed, the incision is stitched up and may be patched with skin from another part of your body or with a woven patch. You may have some soreness at the spot where the incision was made and you may have some discomfort afterwards, such as a sore throat, which is temporary. Following endarterectomy, you will need to have a carotid ultrasound on an annual basis to ensure the plaque has not come back.