Carotid Endarterectomy

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Carotid artery blockages cause up to half of strokes that happen in the U.S. every year. They happen when plaque builds up on the walls of your carotid arteries (carotid artery disease), which are in your neck and bring blood up to your brain. Plaque build-up blocks blood flow to your brain.

At UVA, we can prevent strokes by taking out this plaque with a carotid endarterectomy. This improves blood flow inside the carotid arteries.

Treating Carotid Artery Disease: UVA Expertise

We do about 120 carotid surgeries every year. Studies show that patients who have this surgery at hospitals that do more than 100 of them a year have better outcomes.

Our carotid surgery team includes vascular surgeons, heart doctors, neurologists, and imaging specialists. 

Carotid Artery Disease

W. Darrin Clouse, MD, discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment of carotid artery disease.

What to Expect During a Carotid Endarterectomy

This surgery requires a hospital stay. You’ll get either general anesthesia or local anesthesia, depending on your needs.

During the procedure, your surgeon makes a cut in your neck over your diseased carotid artery. Then they create a bypass. This allows blood to flow around the area while they work on the artery.

They’ll then open the artery and remove plaque from the artery walls. This can take several hours. They'll be careful to keep fragments of plaque from breaking off and flowing downstream.

Once done, the surgeon closes the artery and the cut with sutures or staples. You can usually go home a day or two after the surgery.

After Carotid Endarterectomy

After your surgery, you’ll still need regular visits with your heart care doctor. They’ll help you with a care plan. They’ll monitor your heart and arteries to watch for plaque building up again.

Angioplasty and Stenting: When You Can’t Have Endarterectomy

Not every patient qualifies for carotid endarterectomy. If you can't have general anesthesia or if we can’t reach your plaque, carotid endarterectomy won’t work for you. Instead, we can perform an angioplasty and stenting procedure.

In this procedure, a surgeon puts a metal stent in your artery to keep it open.

Learn more about angioplasty and stenting.