Carotid Endarterectomy

What is a Carotid Endarterectomy?

The carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, face and neck. A Carotid Endarterectomy is a surgical procedure to open or clean the carotid artery to prevent stroke.

Why do I need a Carotid Endarterectomy?

Carotid Endarterectomy is the operation used to remove the narrowing from the lining of the carotid artery and has a proven track record of reducing the long-term risk of stroke. Your vascular surgeon may recommend a Carotid Endarterectomy if you have:

  • A moderate (50-79%) blockage of a carotid artery and are experiencing symptoms such as stroke, mini-stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) when the blood supply to your brain is blocked temporarily. 

  • A severe (80% or more) blockage of the carotid artery even if you have no symptoms.

What is involved in a Carotid Endarterectomy?

The procedure may be performed under a general anaesthetic (while you are asleep) or a local anaesthetic (where you remain are awake).  Both are widely used and there is no evidence that one is better than the other. Here’s what to expect:

  • After admission to the clinic or hospital, you’ll receive a local or general anaesthetic. 

  • To begin the procedure, your vascular surgeon will make an incision at the front of your neck. 

  • After removing the plaque from the carotid artery, your vascular surgeon will repair the artery.

  • Your surgeon will either take a piece of vein from elsewhere in your body to create a natural graft or use a woven patch to form the repair. 

  • The incision will be closed, and you’ll begin your recovery.

  • You may go home the same day or stay 1–2 nights after the procedure, depending on your medical condition and how you respond to surgery.

Where will my procedure be performed?

Your procedure will be performed at the hospital you agreed on with your doctor at your initial consultation.

What are the risks of Carotid Endarterectomy?

There are risks with any surgical procedure. This includes risks associated with anesthetic and those related to your specific procedure. Your vascular surgeon will discuss all relevant risks with you prior to your operation. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask the team at Vascular Associates.

What is the recovery for Carotid Endarterectomy?

Carotid Endarterectomy is a straightforward procedure for most patients. As with any medical procedure, your recovery depends on many individual factors (eg your medical condition prior to surgery) but for most people, the recovery involves:

  • A short stay in hospital (eg 1–2 days), possibly longer if complications develop.

  • A sore throat and numbness around the incision on your neck, which will improve over time. 

  • Eating soft foods (eg soup or smoothies) for a short time before returning to your normal diet. 

  • A return to normal activity, including driving, once pain medicine is stopped and you can easily turn your head to safely operate a car in traffic.

  • Follow up visits to your vascular surgeon to have a carotid ultrasound to check the plaque has not returned to the artery.

If you have any questions about your upcoming Carotid Endarterectomy, speak to the team at Vascular Associates.