A Carotid Endarterectomy is a surgery focused on cleaning the carotid artery. Plaque buildup/blockage that is slowing blood flow by more than 50% is enough reason to begin a Carotid Endarterectomy. This buildup occurs when fatty deposits accumulate in one of the carotid arteries. The surgery is performed with the end goal of preventing strokes and removing the plaque causing the narrowing. This a long-lasting procedure, but, not a permanent cure as overtime blockage can accumulate again; although this is very rare.

What to Expect

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Prior to your scheduled surgery date, your doctor will consult with you about your regular medications to decide if any need to be paused before undergoing your procedure. Your endarterectomy will be performed in a sterile surgical room or basic operation room. Your doctor at Missouri Heart Center will decide whether to administer normal anesthesia, where you won’t be awake during the procedure or local anesthesia, where only the part of your body that is having the surgery will be numbed.


During the procedure, your doctor will make an incision on your neck to reveal the blocked area of the carotid artery. An additional incision will be made to the carotid artery enable for your surgeon to extract the excess plaque. Your doctor will continue to remove the plaque until blood flow is clear and returned to a safe state. To complete the surgery both incisions made will be sewn back together with stitches.


Post operation you will rest in the hospital for an additional one to three days to monitor your recovery. Carotid Endarterectomies are fairly safe, but can come with serious complications after such as stroke, clotting, or death. Because of these aforementioned issues, your doctor will typically prescribe you medicine to prevent clots from forming and suggest steps to keep your arteries healthy after the procedure.

Other complications could arise such as short-term nerve injury, high blood pressure, heart attack, and seizure. The risk of complications increases with age if you are female, and those with certain other conditions.


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Are there any follow up procedures?

You will see your doctor for a carotid ultrasound yearly to ensure no plaque buildup over time.

Will I be able to drive or operate machinery after the procedure?

Driving and operating machinery is permitted once pain medication has been completed and once you can comfortably rotate your head to observe your surroundings.

Will I have any pain after the procedure?

You may experience discomfort or sore throat around the incision area. You may wish to stick to smooth or soft foods if discomfort continues before returning to your normal diet.