Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure which involves clearing fatty deposits which can form inside one or both of the carotid arteries in the neck – a condition known as carotid artery stenosis.
Each year, around 110,000 people suffer from a stroke, with around 25% of these being due to disease of the carotid arteries. In patients who have suffered a stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) with severely narrowed carotid arteries, an operation to remove the narrowing of the artery (carotid endarterectomy) can reduce the risk of a further stroke by up to 33%. Clinical evidence advocates that the optimal timing for surgery is as soon as possible after symptoms appear.
The procedure involves a cut around 7-10 cm long on the side of the neck between the breast bone and jaw. A small cut is made in the narrowed section of the carotid artery, and the fatty deposit which is the cause of the narrowing is removed. The artery is then closed, usually with a patch, and stitches.
After the operation, most people are well enough to go home within 48 hours, although this may vary slightly depending on specific needs. Most problems experience post-operatively are temporary (such as some mild numbness or pain), the risk of significant complications is rare, and will be discussed with you prior to the procedure, along with any alternatives to surgery.
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