by Ricker Polsdorfer MD
Endarterectomy is a surgery to remove build-up in blood vessels. It is most often done in:
Reasons for Procedure
Plaque is a build-up on the lining of blood vessels. It can cause the artery to narrow and harden. This build-up and damage to the blood vessel is known as atherosclerosis. The plaque can slow and even stop blood flow. It can lead to stroke, weakness, cramps, and aching.
Endarterectomy is done to remove the build-up. It should improve blood flow. The symptoms should also improve.
The care team will go over possible problems that may occur such as:
Your doctor will talk about things that increase the risk of problems such as:
Your risk of problems may also be higher if there is plaque build-up in other areas.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
An exam will be done to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery. Images of the arteries will be reviewed.
Let the doctor know about any medicine you are taking. Some medicine may need to be stopped up to 1 week before the procedure.
Anesthesia will be based on where the artery is. Options include:
Description of the Procedure
Incisions will be made over the artery. Blood flow can be stopped to some areas until the work is done. Blood flow through the neck cannot be stopped. A new pathway will be made to allow blood flow while the artery is cleared out. A small tube or a piece of a vein may be used to create the new path.
A tube will be inserted into the artery. A sharp blade will trim the plaque away from the wall. A device can also help to catch and pull out loose plaque. The artery and skin will then be closed with sutures or staples.
How Long Will It Take?
The length will depend on the amount of plaque and place. It often takes several hours.
How Much Will It Hurt?
There will be some pain at the incisions. Medicine can help to ease pain.
Average Hospital Stay
You may be able to leave the same day or need to stay 1 day to 1 week. The stay may be longer if problems happen.
At the Hospital
Care after the procedure may include:
Hospital staff will take steps to lower the risk of infection such as:
Steps you can take to lower the risk of infection include:
Plaque can build up again. Medicine and a healthy diet may stop or slow more plaque growth.
Call Your Doctor
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Heart Association
Society for Vascular Surgery
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
Atherosclerosis endarterectomy. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/pad-endarterectomy. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Carotid artery stenosis repair. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Updated July 25, 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Carotid endarterectomy. Society for Vascular Surgery website. Available at: https://vascular.org/patient-resources/vascular-treatments/carotid-endarterectomy. Accessed September 19, 2019.
6/3/2011 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 9/15/2020
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