Published: Aug. 18, 2010
Updated: Aug. 19, 2010
Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure to clear the blocked arteries in the carotid artery.
The carotid artery delivers blood and oxygen from the heart to the head and neck; blockage of this artery is called carotid stenosis and can lead to a stroke.
In the carotid endarterectomy procedure, your surgeon makes an incision in the neck and clamps the carotid artery above and below the incision in the carotid artery. A shunt is occasionally put in place to maintain the blood flow.
Your surgeon then scrapes the plaque build-up out of the narrowed arteries, removes the shunt, and closes the incision.
Carotid endarterectomy is used to prevent stroke, particularly in patients who have already had a stroke, are at high risk for a stroke, or have significant blockage in the carotid artery.
This procedure is generally considered for men whose carotid artery is 50 percent blocked and for women whose carotid artery is 70 percent blocked. We usually consider this option for patients who are at a low risk for surgery.