Carotid endarterectomy is a vascular operation in which the surgeon removes an obstruction in the carotid (neck) artery caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This operation is performed to prevent stroke.
As we age, our arteries narrow. They lose their flexibility and the linings crack. When the arteries in the neck begin to narrow, blood clots may develop. The carotid artery may become completely blocked or a piece of clot may break off and travel to the brain. In both cases a stroke may result.
Risk of stroke increases as the artery becomes more and more narrow. The risk is particularly high after the artery is blocked more than 70%. The amount of blockage may be determined by a simple painless test called a Carotid Doppler or Carotid Ultrasound.
People at greatest risk for carotid artery narrowing are those over age 65 (particularly smokers) and those who already have poor circulation in the legs or their heart. Patients who have temporary loss of vision or speech and/or weakening of an arm or leg may have had a "mini-stroke" and should see their doctor.
Carotid endarterectomy by an experienced surgeon is a very effective way to reduce the risk of stroke. People who are considering carotid endarterectomy should ask their potential surgeon about his/her experience and results. In general, the chance of complication occurring during surgery should be less than 4% in stable patients.
Carotid disease is only one of several types of hardening of the arteries. Our surgeons perform a broad range of operations including carotid endarterectomy to correct arterial problems.
For consultations/appointments with our vascular surgery specialists, please call 631-444-2565.