Carotid Endarterectomy

Your surgeon may recommend this operation if a blockage has been detected. In the carotid arteries in the neck. There are four main arteries which supply the brain. Two vertebral and two carotid arteries. A blockage in the carotid arteries may lead to stroke. The aim of surgery is to remove the atherosclerotic plaque which obstructs the great vessels of the neck before a major stroke occurs. Unfortunately, atheroscerotic disease is not confined to the carotid arteries and may affect other arteries in the body including the heart. This means that carotid artery surgery is associated with a moderate risk of complications associated with other vessel disease already present.

Pre-operatively you will be seen by your anaesthetist who will assess your overall health and suitability for surgery. The pre-operative assessment allows the anaesthetist to assess your physical condition and gives you the opportunity to discuss any concerns which you may have. Although you will be asked to fast. Most medications can be taken at the usual time with a small sip of water. Ensure that you do not take any medications your surgeon has asked you to cease before surgery. Any pathology tests required are arranged before surgery.

On the morning of surgery an arterial line (a needle to monitor your blood pressure directly) and I.V. cannula is inserted under local anaesthesia. The procedure itself is usually done under a general anaesthetic, but is sometimes done with local anaesthetics and a sedative. Your anaesthetist will discuss with you which technique is recommended for you. Your anaesthetist will be with you all the time during the surgery, constantly monitoring your vital signs and adjusting the levels of anaesthetic.

At the conclusion of the procedure you will be woken up and asked to perform some simple tasks to assess your neurological function. After a brief period of time in the recovery you will be transferred to intensive care unit for monitoring. Expect 24 hours in intensive care before transfer to your own ward.

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