Your carotid arteries are two major blood vessels on either side of your neck that provide a critical blood supply to the brain and head. When fatty deposits develop in the area, it can put you at a heightened risk for a blood clot that can disrupt blood flow to your brain. As you might imagine, this can prove to be extremely detrimental to your health. Below, we take a closer look at the operation used to remove this blockage and how you can expect to recover from the surgery.
A carotid artery endartectomy is the procedure that is commonly used to address blockages in the carotid artery. About a quarter of strokes are caused by a blockage or narrowing of the carotid artery, so if a problem is detected, surgery is oftentimes performed as a preventative measure.
During the procedure, the patient will be placed under a local or general anesthetic. A small incision, only a couple inches in size, is then made between the corner of your jaw and the breastbone. This allows the neurosurgeon to locate the artery and the blockage. A small cut is then made in the affected area and the fatty deposits are removed. Once the surgeon is satisfied with the health of the artery, it is then closed with stitches or a patch. The incision in your skin is also closed with stitches, and you are taken to a recovery room.
Most patients are able to be discharged from the surgical center within 48 hours of the procedure, and most patients say that symptoms are minor in nature. The most common symptoms after the procedure are temporary numbness and neck discomfort, but that tends to fade after the first two weeks, although it can linger up to a year after the procedure.
Most patients can return to normal activities within 3-4 weeks after their carotid artery endartectomy, but that timeline can vary based on your age, health and goals. Your surgeon can give you individualized advice based on your specific operation, but in most instances, you may need some assistance in the first couple weeks of your rehab. It is recommended that you have someone help with meal preparation and household tasks, and it’s imperative that you do not drive until you get clearance from your doctor. Driving requires you to turn your head in different directions, and you will not be able to do this fully until you recover enough to move your head without discomfort.
If you’ve been told that you have a carotid artery blockage or have suffered a stroke and need to have a blockage cared for, reach out to Dr. Chang and his team of neurospecialists today.