Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure to treat carotid artery disease. This disease occurs when fatty, waxy deposits build up in one of the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are blood vessels located on each side of your neck (carotid arteries).

This buildup of plaques (atherosclerosis) may restrict blood flow to your brain. Removing plaques causing the narrowing in the artery can improve blood flow in your carotid artery and reduce your risk of stroke.

In carotid endarterectomy, you receive a local or general anesthetic. Your surgeon makes an incision along the front of your neck, opens your carotid artery and removes the plaques that are clogging your artery. Your surgeon then repairs the artery with stitches or a patch made with a vein or artificial material (patch graft).

Sometimes surgeons may use another technique called eversion carotid endarterectomy, in which the carotid artery is cut and turned inside out and the plaque removed. Your surgeon then reattaches the artery.

Doctors may recommend carotid endarterectomy if you have more than 60 percent blockage in your arteries. You may or may not be experiencing symptoms. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and determine whether you're a candidate for carotid endarterectomy.

Doctors may determine you're a candidate for a procedure called carotid angioplasty and stenting instead of carotid endarterectomy. In this procedure, doctors thread a thin tube (catheter) with a small balloon attached through a blood vessel in your neck to the narrowed artery. The balloon is then inflated to widen the artery and a small wire mesh coil (stent) is often inserted to keep the artery from narrowing again.

Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.

Carotid endarterectomy care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 18, 2014
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  2. What is carotid endarterectomy? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/carend/. Accessed Oct. 3, 2014.
  3. Mohler ER, et al. Carotid endarterectomy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 3, 2014.
  4. Mohler ER, et al. Management of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic disease. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 22, 2014.
  5. Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 7, 2014.