What to expect after Carotid Endarterectomy?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 08, 2013

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After carotid endarterectomy (CEA) surgery, you may stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days. This allows your doctor to watch for any signs of complications.

If your surgery takes place early in the day and you're doing well, you may be able to go home the same day.


For a few days after the surgery, your neck may hurt. It also may be hard to swallow. You may want to eat soft foods that are easy to swallow until your neck isn't as sore. Your doctor may prescribe medicine to help control any pain or discomfort.

Many people are able to go back to their normal activities within about 3 weeks after having CEA. Talk to your doctor about when it's safe for you to go back to your normal routine.

Ongoing Care

After CEA, it's important to get ongoing care and treatment. Discuss your treatment needs with your doctor. Ask him or her when to schedule followup visits.

Talk to your doctor about when to seek emergency care. Problems that require urgent care may include:

  • Severe headaches
  • Swelling in the neck

Signs or symptoms of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, or "mini-stroke"). Signs and symptoms may include sudden weakness or numbness in the face or limbs; the inability to move one or more of your limbs; trouble speaking, understanding, or seeing in one or both eyes; and dizziness or loss of balance.


Let your doctor know if you have questions about any of your medicines or how to take them. After the surgery, your doctor may prescribe antiplatelet medicines, such as low-dose aspirin and clopidogrel. These medicines help prevent blood clots from forming or getting larger.

As part of your long-term treatment, you can take steps to keep your carotid arteries healthy. One important step is to not smoke. Smoking can further damage your arteries. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.

Follow your treatment plan for high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. This can help prevent plaque buildup and blood clots in your carotid arteries.

Some people need a second CEA due to repeat plaque buildup. Following your treatment plan can help lower your chance of needing a second CEA; it also can reduce your risk of stroke.


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