Femoral Endarterectomy: Before Your Surgery
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.
How do you prepare for 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
- Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
- Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
- If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
- Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have 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.
- Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before 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.
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
Enter R010 in the search box to learn more about "Femoral Endarterectomy: Before Your Surgery".
Current as of: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Jeffrey J. Gilbertson MD - Vascular Surgery