When is carotid endarterectomy carried out?
Carotid endarterectomy is treatment for carotid artery disease which develops when the arteries are stiffened with fats and cholesterol deposits. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Due to narrowing and stiffening of arteries, flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain is severely hindered.
How to prepare for endarterectomy?
Once your doctor has confirmed that you are eligible for undergoing the surgery, he/she will give you few instructions before the surgery.
Your doctor may advise you to stop or continue certain medicines and might also suggest a change in your eating regimen.
Pre-operative tests, like cerebral angiogram may be performed. Your doctor will explain you the surgery and its benefits as well.
You will be admitted to the hospital thereafter.
How is the surgery performed?
Endarterectomy is performed under general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia.
The surgeon makes an incision in the neck (as the carotid artery is present there), at the site of the blockage,
The artery is then opened and the plaque is removed. Before operating on the artery, the surgeon will make an arrangement to re-route flow of blood to the brain by a technique known as shunting (placing a plastic tube) in order to prevent stroke.
The shunt will be removed and the artery will be stitched after removing the plaque. Circulation of blood through the carotid artery will be restored.
How does the surgery feel like?
Since you will be under anaesthesia, you won’t be experiencing pain. If your doctor has given you local anaesthesia, then he can monitor the activity of the brain to decreased flow of blood during the surgery.
How long does the surgery last?
It usually takes 1-2 hours
What to expect after the surgery?
You will be staying in intensive care unit for the next 24 hours during which your body’s response will be completely monitored.
The retention period in hospital should not be more than 2 to 3 days. Intravenous drip system may be continued.
You might experience subtle pain in the neck for few days and swallowing hard food could be difficult, which are quite normal. Soft foods may be advised to alleviate discomfort.
Your doctor will discuss the outcome of the surgery and advice you on modifying your lifestyle and eating habits so to avoid a similar complication in the future.
You need to stop smoking as well.
What precautions to take post surgery?
Complete recovery would take at least a month. Cut down on your physical activities, especially do not move your neck in jerk and maintain a stable posture while sleeping.
You should resume normal activities only with your doctor’s advice.
Inform your doctor immediately on experiencing swelling in your neck, headaches, loss of balance, numbness in any body part or any other abnormalities.
Are there any risks of the procedure?
A chance of having stroke is 1-2%. It can happen if blood flow to the brain gets blocked during the surgery.
Minor risks of nerve injury and infections are there. Nerve injury of vocal cord can make your voice hoarse and it can also lead to numbness of face and tongue.
The benefits of the surgery outweigh the risk and endarterectomy is definitely a successful procedure.