Carotid artery surgery is a medical procedure to remove the blockages from the carotid arteries to restore the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. This surgery is also called the carotid endarterectomy (CEA).
Why Does One Have To Undergo Carotid Artery Surgery?
Carotid arteries are primarily located on either side of a person’s neck. These are special blood vessels providing oxygenated blood to the brain. When plaque builds up in these blood vessels, it creates a blockage thereby making the blood unable to reach the brain. This condition is called carotid artery disease. When a significant amount of blood flow is cut to the brain, patients become susceptible to stroke. Thus, carotid artery surgery is aimed at removing such blockages for a steady supply of blood to the brain.
Is Carotid Artery Surgery Dangerous?
Carotid artery surgery is a one-day medical procedure to get rid of plaque in the carotid arteries. This is an invasive procedure and can be performed under local or general anaesthesia. It should be remembered that carotid artery surgery is not dangerous because it is always performed by a team of skilled surgeons and is aimed at improving the quality of life for patients suffering from carotid artery disease.
It must be remembered that all patients are not symptomatic, even if they have some percentage of blockage in the carotid arteries. In such cases, medications and carotid angioplasty may be recommended and not a carotid artery surgery. According to the medical rule, carotid artery should be strongly recommended to symptomatic patients with 70-99% of blockage present in the carotid arteries. According to the doctors, the most effective treatment for moderate to severe carotid artery blockage is the surgery. This reduces the rate of complications.
Certain complications are there with all kinds of surgery. The same is true for carotid artery surgery as well:
- The patient might feel pain or numbness at the wounded site. This is normal and temporary and can be treated with painkillers.
- The patient might develop wound infection on the incision site. The patient must inform the doctor in such cases. This can be treated with antibiotics.
- There can be a probability of minor nerve damage. Symptoms of such damages include hoarse voice and feeling of weakness or numbness on the side of the face. Usually, such damages are temporary and they disappear within a month.
- There is a probability of re-narrowing of the carotid artery. In such cases further, surgery may be required.
It should be noted that though negligible, there are risks associated with carotid artery surgery:
- There is around 2% risk of stroke for patients undergoing carotid artery surgery. The probability of stroke increases for people who had an episode of stroke before the operation.
- Less than 1% risk of death is associated with the operation which can result from complications like stroke or heart attack.
- The probabilities of such risks are very less and such are associated with any kind of surgery. The benefits of the carotid artery surgery are way greater.
How to Prevent Re-narrowing of the Carotid Artery?
Having a successful carotid artery surgery does not necessarily mean that there will not be a further blockage in your arteries. In order to prevent re-narrowing of the arteries:
- The patient should eat a healthy and balanced diet. If the doctor advises, the patient should exercise.
- The patient should make efforts to quit smoking and reduce the stress level.
- The patients will be advised to keep a check on his cholesterol and blood pressure level. If the patient is told to take medicines for it, he should.