What is carotid artery surgery?
The carotid artery is a very important blood vessel since it supplies blood to the brain and other parts of the head.
The carotid artery can be narrowed by plaques made of cholesterol and calcium. Blood clots can also form on the plaques and block the artery.
Pieces of the plaques and clots can also break off and travel to the brain and cause a stroke and death if they affect a large area. If a small area is affected, they cause a mini-stroke which is also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
Carotid artery surgery which is also known as carotid endarterectomy, is the operation which is done to remove the plaques from the blood vessels and restore normal blood flow through the carotid artery.
Who is eligible for carotid artery surgery?
Persons who are good candidates for carotid artery surgery include:
1. Persons with severe narrowing of their carotid arteries
2. Persons who have had a stroke
3. Persons who have had transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)
4. Persons with high risk factors for developing a stroke as a preventative measure
What are the preparations of carotid artery surgery?
Before the surgeon performs carotid artery surgery, they usually request investigations to determine the location of the blockage and its severity. A Doppler ultrasound is one of those investigations which can assess the level and degree of blockage in the carotid arteries.
The doctor can also request other investigations like a computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and angiography.
What are the complications of carotid artery surgery?
The complications of carotid artery surgery include developing a stroke, though the risk is very low as it ranges from 1 to 3%. The carotid artery can also become blocked once again especially if the person continues smoking.
Other rare complications that can develop after this operation include nerve injury, numbness of the face, hoarseness of voice and difficulty swallowing.