Carotid Endarterectomy

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Carotid Endarterectomy. Image courtesy of the Society for Vascular SurgeryThe standard operation which is performed for carotid artery disease is called a carotid endarterectomy, where the artery is exposed and opened through a cut in the neck and the plaque removed. The artery is then repaired and the wound closed.

A number of large randomised controlled trials have been performed to demonstrate the benefit of this operation to reduce the risk of stroke (NASCET, ECST, ACST, ACAS).

This operation has been the gold standard of treatment for several decades and with improvements in medication, surgical technique, patient selection and anaesthesia results in a very low rate of complications. Nevertheless, any complications, such as stroke, heart attack or death, is taken seriously and must be considered in light of any potential benefit.

Unlike many other surgical operations, this procedure is performed not to cure a painful or dangerous condition, but rather to help prevent or reduce the risk of a stroke.