Carotid Endarterectomy

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Rebound’s brain and spine neurosurgery team is dedicated to providing treatment that improves patients’ quality of life and vascular health. Our neurosurgeons treat strokes, offer interventional surgical procedures, and work with patients to learn stroke prevention measures. Learn how carotid endarterectomy can help patients suffering from artery blockage or carotid artery disease and prevent stroke. 

What is Carotid Endarterectomy?

Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing the buildup of plaque in the carotid arteries, two very important arteries which supply blood and oxygen to the brain. The carotid arteries are located on each side of the neck. This type of vascular surgery is often referred to as “CEA”.

“One of the common reasons the surgery is performed is to help prevent stroke, and it is typically performed on patients with severe carotid artery disease,” says Rebound neurosurgeon Dr. Ashok Modha. Carotid artery disease places patients at a higher risk for stroke. Carotid endarterectomy may also be performed on patients who have recently exhibited symptoms of stroke.

How does Carotid Endarterectomy Prevent Stroke?

Stroke happens when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain, or when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood it needs and, within minutes, brain damage may occur.

“Over time, plaque buildup in the carotid arteries create a high-risk environment for stroke by either preventing an adequate supply of oxygenated blood to the brain, or by bits of plaque breaking off and shooting off to the brain through the carotid arteries and plugging up a brain blood vessel,” says Dr. Modha. “CEA can prevent a stroke from happening by allowing us to remove the buildup of plaque and restore blood flow from the carotid arteries to the brain.”

How is Carotid Endarterectomy Performed?

Before the procedure, anesthesia may be administered or the surgical site may be numbed. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the side of the neck, at the site of the blockage.

Before making an incision directly into the affected artery, the surgeon clamps the artery to prevent its blood flow during the procedure. Commonly, the surgeon uses a shunt to ensure blood is still supplied to the brain during the surgery. A shunt essentially reroutes the blood around the artery while it is being operated on. The surgeon then opens the affected artery and removes the plaque buildup. The artery is then stitched closed again, the clamp is removed and the surgeon closes the incision in the neck.

Typically, carotid endarterectomy procedures last two hours, depending on the severity of plaque buildup and blockage.

If you have carotid artery disease or are at risk of stroke, contact us at 1-800-REBOUND or request an appointment online to discuss whether or not carotid endarterectomy may be a beneficial treatment option for you.

Related Brain & Spine Neurosurgery Resources:

Brain & Spine Neurosurgery Team and Services

Stroke Awareness & Prevention

What is Hydrocephalus?

What is Endoscopic Brain Surgery?

What is a Craniotomy and What is it Used to Treat?

Trusted Resources:

National Institutes of Health – Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – What is Carotid Endarterectomy?

American Association of Neurological Surgeons – Carotid Endarterectomy and Stenosis

American Heart Association – What is Carotid Endarterectomy?