When waxy plaque builds up in the walls of the carotid arteries (carotid artery disease), it may obstruct the main supply of oxygenated blood from the heart to the head. Endarterectomy is a surgical procedure employed to remove the obstruction and reduce a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke.
The procedure may be performed under general or local anesthesia. A vascular surgeon stops or diverts blood flow through the carotid artery, makes an incision in the wall of the blocked area, and strips out the inner part of the lining that contains the plaque. Afterwards, the surgeon may insert a graft (made of synthetic material or using tissue transplanted from elsewhere in the patient’s body) to keep the artery widened. A traditional open surgery, endarterectomy is performed as an inpatient procedure.