Femoral Endarterectomy: Before Your Surgery

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What is a femoral endarterectomy?

A femoral endarterectomy (say "FEM-uh-rull en-dar-tuh-REK-tuh-mee") is done to remove fatty buildup (plaque) from the femoral artery. This is a large blood vessel in the leg. When plaque builds up in the artery, it can make it hard for blood to flow in your leg. After surgery, blood may flow better in your leg. You may feel less leg pain. And you may have less numbness and cramping.

You will probably be asleep during the surgery. But it might be done while you are awake. If this is the case, you will get medicine to numb your leg and prevent pain.

The doctor will make a cut (incision) in your groin or upper thigh. The cut is made over the blocked part of the artery. The doctor will then make a cut in the artery and will take out the plaque.

Next, the doctor may sew a man-made patch over the cut in your artery. But sometimes a piece of blood vessel from another part of the leg is sewn over the cut. This will make the artery wider. It also helps keep it from getting narrow again. Then the doctor will use stitches to close the cut in your skin. It will leave a scar. But the scar will fade with time.

You will probably spend 1 or 2 days in the hospital. You will need to take it easy for 1 to 4 weeks at home. It may take 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. Bring a copy to the hospital. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: March 20, 2017