Carotid Endarterectomy: Before Your Surgery
What is a carotid endarterectomy?
A carotid endarterectomy (say "kuh-RAW-tid en-dar-tuh-REK-tuh-mee") is done to remove fatty buildup (plaque) from one of the carotid arteries. There are two of these arteries. One runs along each side of the neck. They supply blood to your brain. When plaque builds up in either one, it can limit blood flow to your brain. The plaque also raises your risk of stroke. This surgery may lower your risk of stroke.
The doctor will make a cut (incision) in your neck. Then the doctor will make a cut in the carotid artery and take out the plaque.
Next, the doctor will close the cut in the artery with stitches. The doctor may sew a man-made or tissue patch to close the cut in the artery. 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 may stay in the hospital for at least 1 or 2 days.
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.
- 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.
- You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may be asleep, or you may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
- The surgery may take about 2 hours.
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: January 10, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology & Stephen Fort MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology