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Carotid Endarterectomy

  • Definition

    Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure in which a stenosis (narrowing) or ulceration of an atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid artery is removed.


    When atherosclerosis has narrowed the carotid artery (one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain), carotid endarterectomy may reduce the risk of stroke. It has been used in patients with Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs), in those who have had a stroke, or in those with no symptoms who have a significant narrowing. A TIA may produce symptoms such as weakness or sensory changes on one side of your body, speech alterations, and/or visual disturbances. Episodes usually last for only a few minutes but may continue for up to 24 hours.

    The carotid arteries are two of the four main vessels supplying blood to the brain. During the operation, the surgeon opens the carotid artery in the neck and removes atherosclerotic plaque or other material obstructing the flow of blood from the artery.

    Based on current knowledge, carotid endarterectomy plus optimal medical treatment is highly effective in preventing stroke and death in symptomatic patients with carotid stenoses greater than 50 percent. Patients who have had no symptoms can benefit from endarterectomy when their stenosis is greater than 70-80%. However, it is essential that the vascular surgeon be one with a mortality-complication rate of less than 3 percent.


    What tests need to be done to diagnose the condition?

    To determine if surgery is necessary?

    Should a specialist be consulted?

    Are there any alternative treatments to improve the blood supply without surgery?

    If no surgery is performed, what is likely to happen?

    How many carotid surgeries have you performed?

    What is your complication rate?

    What are the risks of this surgery?

    How is the surgery done?

    How long will I be in the hospital?

    What can be expected after surgery?