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Carotid Endarterectomy Information

Your carotid arteries are found in either side of your neck and are responsible for supplying your brain with oxygenated blood. Like your coronary, or heart, arteries, the arteries to your brain can experience a buildup of plaque, resulting in a narrowing and hardening of the artery.

If the plaque buildup causes a complete or partial blockage of blood flow to your brain, you will experience lack of oxygen to the brain, have a stroke (ischemic stroke), or have mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks).

Procedure Overview

A carotid endarterectomy is a procedure that removes excess buildup of plaque, perhaps from high cholesterol, on the inside of your carotid arteries.

The procedure is performed to improve blood flow to your brain and reduce the risk of stroke.

You may undergo a carotid endarterectomy to prevent a stroke if your carotid arteries are severely narrowed, if you have had a mild stroke, or if you have had mini-strokes.

To perform a carotid endarterectomy, your surgeon will make an incision in your neck to access your carotid artery. The artery is then clamped to stop blood flow through the artery (the other carotid artery continues to supply your brain with blood during the procedure). Or, a shunt is used to redirect blood around the part of the carotid artery that will be repaired.

The exposed carotid artery is then opened at the spot where there is significant plaque buildup. The plaque and inner lining of the artery is then removed. The artery is stitched closed or a patch is used to close the artery. Then, bleeding is controlled and the neck incision is closed.

During a carotid endarterectomy, you may be place under general anesthesia or your neck area only may be numbed. You will remain in the hospital for one or more days to recover and for your physicians to monitor your progress.

As with any heart or vessel procedure, following a heart healthy lifestyle after surgery will improve the outcome of the procedure.


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