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Endarterectomy Surgery

Endarterectomy is surgery to remove plaque buildup in your arteries and restore blood flow to your brain and leg. It lowers the risk of stroke or complications of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

There are a few types of endarterectomies you can have, based on where you have blockage:

  • Femoral removes blockages from blood vessels in your leg.
  • Carotid removes plaque from arteries in your neck.
  • Peripheral vascular removes plaque from veins either in your legs, arms, or belly.

Contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute

To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:

Conditions We Treat with Endarterectomy

These conditions occur when the inside lining of your arteries becomes narrow due to damage and can affect the:

  • Arm
  • Belly
  • Leg
  • Neck

Factors that can lead to blockage or damage in your arteries include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Family history

Since artery diseases restrict blood flow through your blood vessels and to your brain, you may suffer a stroke if left untreated.

Based on how severe the blockage, your doctor may suggest an endarterectomy to lower your risk of stroke.

What to Expect During Your Endarterectomy

Before your surgery

Before your endarterectomy, your doctor will tell you how to best prepare. This can include lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking, to reduce the stress put on your arteries.

Your doctor may also order some tests to find out how severe the blockage of blood flow is, such as:

  • Ultrasound: uses sound waves to take pictures of inside the body.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography: uses radio-frequency waves to provide detailed pictures.
  • CT angiography: uses dye to take an x-ray of the blood vessels.

During your surgery

You'll receive general anesthesia so that you won't be awake during surgery.

During the procedure, your surgeon will:

  • Make a small cut in your blocked blood vessel.
  • Remove the plaque and any other buildup inside the artery to restore healthy blood flow.
  • Stitch up the cut.

Surgery can take a few hours based on the location and severity of the blockage.

After your surgery

After your endarterectomy, you'll spend a few nights in the hospital. Your care team will keep a close eye on you to make sure you don't have any lasting complications from the surgery.

You will be sore around the surgery site.

Your doctor will prescribe meds to ease the pain and prevent infection. He or she will also tell you how to best care for your incision and prevent future plaque buildup in your arteries.

You should be able to return to your normal routine after three or four weeks.

Endarterectomy Surgery Risks

As with any surgery, endarterectomy has risks.

Many of the risks relate to your age, current health status, and how severe the blockage.

Complications can include:

  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Stroke
  • Internal bleeding or bruising

Your doctor will work with you to decide if endarterectomy might be right for you.

To learn more or find a doctor, contact UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute.