The carotid arteries are located on each side of the neck. The arteries span a wide region from the heart to the base of the skull. These important arteries provide oxygen rich blood to ensure that the brain functions smoothly. Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure conducted in order to remove the lining that has become thickened or damaged, and to enable sufficient blood flow. Carotid endarterectomy, carotid stent and carotid angioplasty are effective methods in treating people with carotid stenosis. Carotid stenosis is the internal narrowing of the carotid arteries.
The carotid arteries are prone to damage and disease due to various factors such as age, lifestyle and heredity. Plaque build-up or clots can block the arteries. Plaque build up is mainly caused due to cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue deposits. Blocked arteries may cause the blood flow to slow or stop. Both situations are not desirable. Carotid artery disease is a serious health condition because such plaque deposits can also break loose and travel to the brain. If the blood flow to the brain stops it will cause permanent brain damage and even death. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a mini stroke which is caused when any tiny artery is blocked. Such attacks are indications that treatment is required to resolve the carotid artery problem. The need for carotid endarterectomy is based on indications such as history of mild stroke, presence of blockage or may be conducted prior to a heart surgery.
Carotid endarterectomy is a two hour surgery to help resolve problems associated with the carotid artery. The patient is usually put to sleep or a local anesthesia is administered to numb the neck region. If the patient is awake during the surgery it helps the surgeon monitor the brains reaction to increase or decrease in blood supply. After numbing the neck region, surgeons usually make an incision on the side of the neck to expose the blocked carotid artery. The carotid artery is then clamped to help surgical procedures. The brain receives sufficient blood supply from the carotid artery on the other side of the neck. Plaque deposits are peeled from the arteries and arteries are sutured to heal. The neck incision is also stitched. After the surgery the patient is observed for a day or two. This helps determine the success of the surgery and also rule out any carotid endarterectomy risks. Severe headaches, swelling or changes in brain function post surgery must be brought to your doctor’s attention immediately.