Endarterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove plaque buildup from the carotid arteries, located in the neck. This common vascular surgical procedure is performed in patients at significant risk of stroke.

An endarterectomy may be recommended if you have significant blockage—70 percent or more—in your carotid arteries and you are considered to be at risk for a stroke. This state of disease is called carotid artery disease, and it is caused by atherosclerosis.

What to expect during an endarterectomy

Preparing for your procedure

Prior to your endarterectomy, you’ll meet with your physician to discuss your medical history, medications you take and any questions you have.

Tests before an endarterectomy may include angiography, magnetic resonance arteriography and duplex ultrasound.

You are given medication before this surgical procedure, either general or local. Your neck is cleaned and shaved as a precaution to prevent infection.

During your procedure

Your physician makes an incision in your neck and opens your blocked carotid artery. The built-up plaque in the artery is removed, and your artery and neck are closed.

After your procedure

After an endarterectomy, you spend one or two nights in the hospital. Your neck may hurt and you may have difficulty swallowing.

After you return home, your physician will likely recommend you refrain from heavy lifting and vigorous activity for several weeks. You will likely be advised to not return to work for one month after this procedure.

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