Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is done in a hospital. The surgery usually takes about 2 hours.
You will have anesthesia (AN-es-THE-ze-a) during the surgery so you don't feel pain. General anesthesia temporarily puts you to sleep. Local anesthesia numbs only certain areas of your body.
Your surgeon may choose to give you local anesthesia so he or she can talk to you during the surgery. This allows the surgeon to check your brain's reaction to the decrease in blood flow that occurs during the surgery.
During CEA, your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your neck to expose the blocked section of the carotid artery. He or she will put a clamp on your artery to stop blood flow through it.
During the procedure, your brain gets blood from the carotid artery on the other side of your neck. However, your surgeon also may use a tube called a shunt to move blood around the narrowed or blocked carotid artery.
Next, your surgeon will make a cut in the blocked part of the artery. To remove the plaque, he or she will remove the inner lining of the artery where the blockage is.
Finally, your surgeon will close the artery with stitches and stop any bleeding. He or she will then close the incision in your neck.
The illustration shows the process of carotid endarterectomy. Figure A shows a carotid artery with plaque buildup. The inset image shows a cross-section of the narrowed carotid artery. Figure B shows how the carotid artery is cut and how the plaque is removed. Figure C shows the artery stitched up and normal blood flow restored. The inset image shows a cross-section of the artery with plaque removed and normal blood flow restored.
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