What happens after carotid endarterectomy surgery?

After a carotid endarterectomy (CEA) procedure for carotid artery disease, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you may be taken to the intensive care unit (ICU) or your hospital room. At the appropriate time, you will be assisted out of bed to walk around as tolerated. If a drainage tube was placed in the incision during the procedure, it most likely will be removed the next morning by your physician.

Your diet will be advanced to solid foods as tolerated. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your physician. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications. Your physician may schedule you for follow-up duplex ultrasound procedures to monitor the carotid arteries in your neck for a period of time. Generally, patients are able to go home within one to two days following a carotid endarterectomy.

If you have significant blockage of your carotid artery, and your surgeon determines that you need surgery to correct the blockage, this procedure is performed in the operating room under either a local or general anesthetic. An incision is made in the neck, the carotid artery is controlled, opened, the plaque carefully removed and the vessel sewn up with fine suture. Blood flow to the brain is monitored with different techniques to ensure enough blood flow to the brain while the surgeon works on removing the blockage. In general the recovery is short and most patients are able to go home the day after surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.