Carotid EndarterectomyA carotid endarterectomy involves removing plaque from an artery that supplies blood to the brain.
A carotid endarterectomy procedure removes built-up plaque from a carotid artery and lowers the patient’s risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA). The carotid arteries are large blood vessels on either side of the neck that deliver oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Positioned firmly at the forefront of vascular care, Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute is led by board-certified and nationally applauded vascular surgeons who routinely perform carotid endarterectomy procedures. TGH helps patients achieve world-class outcomes by merging individualized treatment with progressive technologies—for instance, our hospital is equipped with an ultrasound vascular laboratory that’s accredited in five specialty testing areas by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC).
A carotid endarterectomy is used to treat carotid artery disease, a condition characterized by an accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque) in one of the carotid arteries. This blockage can disrupt the flow of blood to the brain, depriving it of essential oxygen and triggering complications like stroke and TIA. The process of fat accumulation in the carotid artery is referred to as atherosclerosis.
A carotid endarterectomy is performed by a vascular surgeon in a hospital setting. Here’s a brief overview of the procedure:
- An incision is made along the side of the neck to expose and delicately cut into the blocked carotid artery.
- A small device called a shunt is inserted to divert blood flow to the brain around the surgical site.
- The plaque is removed from the artery.
- The shunt is removed and the surgical site is carefully closed and stitched.
What to Expect
A carotid endarterectomy can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia. Patients who elect to receive local anesthesia may also be given a sedative. Following the procedure, most patients stay in the hospital for one or two days for evaluation.
Any medical procedure comes with some measure of risk, including a carotid endarterectomy. Possible complications of this procedure include:
- Swelling or bleeding around the incision site
- Heart attack
- Intracerebral hemorrhage
- Neurological complications affecting the nose, ears, eyes or tongue
For patients at high risk of stroke and TIA due to advanced carotid artery disease, carotid endarterectomy is a potentially life-saving procedure. However, due to its invasiveness, it’s not recommended for patients with small arterial blockages.