Atherosclerosis endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes plaque – a substance made of built-up fat, cholesterol and calcium – from your arteries. As plaque builds up in your arteries, it causes them to stiffen and narrow, a condition known as atherosclerosis. 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, improving your atherosclerosis symptoms and avoiding potential complications.


Prior to surgery your doctor will order lab tests and various imaging tests to evaluate the extent of your blockages and health of your heart. He or she will review your medication list, and might ask you to stop taking certain medications that could increase your risk of bleeding during the procedure. You’ll also be asked not to eat or drink anything 8 to 12 hours before your surgery

What to Expect

You may have either local or general anesthesia. 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 your incisions. In some cases, your surgeon may insert a thin, flexible tube to help drain excess fluid from your incision.


You’ll be monitored in a recovery room for an hour or more until your blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing and surgical site stabilize. Afterward, you’ll 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 resuming normal activities after you return home. You’ll also be given a prescription for pain medication to take as needed. You may also receive a prescription for medication to prevent blood clots from forming.

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