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Vascular Surgery

Carotid Artery Surgery

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The two carotid arteries are blood vessels in the neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When one of these vessels becomes narrowed by plaque buildup, the brain can't get enough oxygen. This can lead to a stroke. In some cases, a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy is required to remove plaque, which reopens the carotid artery.

The Surgery

Carotid artery surgery is performed under either general or local anesthesia, and lasts about an hour or two. The surgeon makes an incision near one of the carotid arteries in the neck, and then makes an incision in the artery itself. While the surgeon is working to remove plaque from the artery wall, your blood may be rerouted with a shunt, which is a small tube that allows blood to flow to your brain. Once the plaque is removed from the artery, the shunt is removed. The doctor closes the artery and the skin incision with stitches. A small drainage tube may be placed in the incision for one day.

For important information on risks of and preparation for the surgery, see Before Vascular Surgery.

For post-operative information, see After Vascular Surgery.

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