Carotid artery surgery is a surgery to treat carotid artery disease.
Though utmost care is taken by your surgeon during the procedure, carotid surgery does carry certain risks. The risks of carotid artery surgery include:
- Blood clots or bleeding in the brain
- Heart attack
- Brain damage
- Swelling near your airway
- More blockage of the carotid artery over time
- Breathing problems
- Allergic reaction to medicines
The risk is higher if you suffer from diabetes or if you are more than 75 years old.
What is carotid artery surgery?
Carotid artery surgery is a surgery to treat carotid artery disease. The carotid artery is the main artery present on both sides of the neck that supplies blood to the brain and face. A buildup of the fatty substance (plaques) can block the blood flow in the carotid arteries entirely or partially, resulting in a stroke. Carotid artery surgery restores proper blood flow to the brain. There are two types of carotid artery surgery:
When should you have carotid artery surgery?
Carotid artery surgery is ideal in these cases:
- When the carotid artery is severely blocked with a previous history of stroke or mini-stroke
- When there is a moderate blockage in the carotid artery with a history of stroke or mini-stroke
- When there is a severe blockage, but there is no history of stroke or mini-stroke
What to expect during carotid artery surgery?
Before the procedure:
You should enlist your medical and medication history to the physician. Tell the physician about what drugs you are taking, even nonprescription medicines or herbs. Before the surgery, you should:
- Ask your physician about the drugs to be taken on the day of the surgery
- Inform the physician if you are on blood thinners
- Inform the physician if you have a cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or any illness
- Stop smoking a few days before the procedure
- Stop drinking or eating anything after midnight the night before your procedure
- Stop taking antiarrhythmic medications several days before the surgery
- Ask the doctor about any precautions if you have a pacemaker or implanted defibrillator
During a carotid endarterectomy:
- You may receive general anesthesia or local anesthesia along with a sedative to make you relax throughout the procedure
- You have to lie on your side on the operating table, the side where the blocked artery is present
- The physician makes a cut in the neck to expose the carotid artery
- After exposing the artery by shifting the structures of the neck, the physician makes a cut in the artery
- To divert the blood flow around the surgery, the physician places a shunt
- After placing the shunt, the physician removes the plaque from the artery
- Next, the physician removes the shunt and close the artery with stitches
- Finally, the physician places a small tube in the neck to drain the blood
- The physician applies a sterile bandage or dressing at the site
During an angioplasty:
- During an angioplasty, the physician passes a catheter through a small incision (cut) made on the leg, arm, or wrist.
- A tiny balloon attached to the catheter would blow up and push through the blockage.
- Finally, the physician places a wire mesh (stent) in this blocked area. The stent is left in the artery to keep it open.
After the procedure:
- The drain will be removed 24 hours after the surgery
- You may have to stay overnight in the hospital
After going home:
- Avoid physical activity for 3-4 weeks
- Don’t drive for 24 hours
- Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours after you leave the hospital
- Shower immediately