Type of Surgery

Information

Doctor Certified

Last updated: 11/24/2009

Risks

Serious risks are associated with carotid endarterectomy. They involve complications that can arise during or following the surgery, as well as underlying conditions that led to blockage of the patient's arteries in the first place. Stroke is the most...

serious postoperative risk. If it occurs within 12 to 24 hours after surgery, the cause is usually an embolism, which is a clot or tissue from the endarterectomy site. Other major complications that can occur are:

  • heart attack or other heart problems
  • death
  • breathing difficulties
  • high blood pressure
  • nerve injury, which can cause problems with vocal cords, saliva management, and tongue movement
  • bleeding within the brain
  • restenosis, the continuing buildup of plaque, which can occur from five months to 13 years after surgery

The risks of carotid endarterectomy surgery depend upon age, overall health, and the skill and experience levels of the surgeons treating the patient. The likelihood of complications is lower when the surgeon performing the procedure has acknowledged skills and experience. According to the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association, surgery is best performed by a surgeon who has only had complications occur in less than 3% of patients. Hospitals, too, should be able to show that fewer than 3% of their patients undergoing endarterectomy have had complications. These recommendations are based not only on skill levels, but also on the ability to accurately weigh the stroke risks for each patient against the potential risk of complication because of age, hereditary factors, and the presence of underlying conditions or diseases.



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In a carotid endarterectomy, the carotid artery is access through an incision in the neck (A). A measurement of the pressure inside the vessel is taken to assess the degree of blockage (B). The carotid is clamped above and below the incision, and a shunt is inserted to maintain blood flow (C). Plaque lining the artery is removed (D). The shunt is taken out (E), and the incisions are repaired (F). (Illustration by GGS Inc.) In a carotid endarterectomy, the carotid artery is access through an incision in the neck (A). A measurement of the pressure inside the vessel is taken to assess the degree of blockage (B). The carotid is clamped above and below the incision, and a shunt is inserted to maintain blood flow (C). Plaque lining the artery is removed (D). The shunt is taken out (E), and the incisions are repaired (F). (Illustration by GGS Inc.)




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Other Information

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is a surgical procedure used to correct carotid stenosis (narrowing of the carotid artery lumen by atheroma), used particularly when this causes medical problems, such as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or cerebrovascular accidents (CVAs, strokes). Endarterectomy is the removal of material on the inside (end-) of an artery. Angioplasty and stenting of the carotid artery are undergoing investigation as alternatives to carotid endarterectomy.


From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotid_endarterectomy

Other Information

They've become more prevalent since the heart surgery.


-Skip Rutherford

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