Blood travels from the heart to the brain through 4 arteries
in the neck, 2 carotid arteries and 2 vertebral arteries. A
carotid endarterectomy is an operation in which a narrowed
carotid artery is opened up to allow better flow of blood to
the brain. The usual cause of this narrowing is a
cholesterol deposit at the beginning of the internal carotid
COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Sometimes the artery may be partially narrowed and there
may be no symptoms at all.
If there is enough narrowing it may produce symptoms which
last from a few minutes to a few hours - usually with
These symptoms may include weakness of the muscles of the
face, arms or legs, usually on one side.
There may be slurred speech or a shade like blindness of
These attacks are called transient ischaemic attacks.
The diagnosis is usually made by taking a detailed history
and a physical examination.
An arteriogram or a duplex scan may be done.
Transient ischaemic attacks are a warning of impending
It is important to correct the narrowing before a stroke
You have been advised to have an operation to open up a
narrowed carotid artery.
Your doctor will advise when you need to be admitted.
Do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the
Make sure your doctor knows what medicines you take,
especially medicines which may affect blood clotting.
The operation generally takes 2 hours.
Your doctor will discuss whether he proposes to do this
under general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic.
The carotid artery will be exposed through an incision on
the side of your neck for the operation.
After the operation you will be taken to a recovery unit
or high care unit where you will be kept until you are safe
to be transferred to your regular hospital room.
Pain will be controlled with medicine.
This disease is a high risk disease and this operation is
a high risk operation. You must be aware of the following
Local damage to the nerves and other structure in the
neck is possible.
Post-operative bleeding is possible.
An infection in the neck wound is rare.
It is important to realise that it is possible that some
or all of your symptoms might not be completely relieved by
It is important to realise that there is a small
incidence of stroke after this operation. When it does occur
it is a disastrous complication. In extreme cases it may
even lead to death.
It is possible that the disease may recur and cause
further narrowing of the artery. What is more common is that
the same disease narrows the artery on the other side.
Systemic complications like deep vein thrombosis and
pulmonary embolism are possible after any operation or