Atherosclerosis Endarterectomy

Treating Cardiovascular Diseases in Wisconsin and Northern Illinois

Atherosclerosis endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes plaque from your arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances found in your blood. As plaque builds up in your arteries, it causes them to stiffen and narrow, a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Areas deprived of blood and oxygen may eventually show signs and symptoms of atherosclerosis. Depending on the severity of your condition and where it occurs, atherosclerosis can increase your risk of a stroke, heart attack, limb amputation, organ failure or death.

By removing plaque from your arteries, an atherosclerosis endarterectomy improves blood flow through your arteries, thereby reducing your symptoms of atherosclerosis and potential complications. 

Preparing for an Atherosclerosis Endarterectomy

  • TestingPrior to surgery, your doctor will request that you undergo certain tests to ensure that you are optimally ready for the procedure. Depending on where your blockage is located, your doctor is likely to perform lab tests and various imaging tests to evaluate the extent of your blockages and health of your heart.
  • MedicationsYour doctor will thoroughly review your medication list. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications that could increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure. Depending on where your blockage is located, your doctor may ask you to start or stop taking platelet-blocking medications, which reduce your risk of developing blood clots.
  • Eating and DrinkingYour doctor will ask you not to eat or drink anything 8 – 12 hours before your surgery.

What to Expect during an Atherosclerosis Endarterectomy

Depending on your specific condition, you may have either local or general anesthesia. Your blood pressure and other vital signs will be carefully monitored.

After your vascular surgeon makes an incision in your artery, he or she will remove the inner lining of the artery around the blockage. A clamp may be placed on your artery to temporarily stop blood flow, or the surgeon may insert a shunt (tube) to temporarily reroute the blood around the obstruction.

Once the plaque is removed, your surgeon will remove the clamp and/or shunt and use stitches to close the incisions in your artery and skin. In some cases, your surgeon may insert a thin, flexible tube to help drain excess fluid from your incision. 

Recovering after Atherosclerosis Endarterectomy

You will be monitored in a recovery room for an hour or more until your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing and surgical site stablize. Afterward, you will transfer to a unit within the hospital that specializes in the care of patients who have had an endarterectomy. You can expect to stay in the hospital for a full day.

Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on when you may resume your normal activities after you return home. You will be given a prescription for pain medication to take as needed. You may also receive a prescription for an anticoagulant medication to prevent blood clots from forming.

Potential Risks of an Atherosclerosis Endarterectomy

Risks during and after an endarterectomy are different for each individual. Some conditions that may increase your risk for complications include:

  • Advancing age
  • A previous stroke, especially if you are undergoing a carotid (neck artery) endarterectomy
  • Blockages in other blood vessels
  • Having a previous endarterectomy in the same location
  • The presence of other medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes or congestive heart failure

Nationally Recognized for Treating Vascular Conditions

Aurora Health Care is known nationally for its highly skilled vascular surgeons, support staff and state-of-the-art equipment. Our patients appreciate the convenience of seeing their entire team at one location.

Aurora cardiovascular doctors are conveniently located throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Find a doctor or cardiovascular specialist near you. To get a second opinion or if you need assistance finding a provider, please call 888-649-6892.