Find out about carotid endarterectomy and when it is necessary. Carotid endarterectomy is a procedure which unblocks a carotid artery. The carotid arteries are the primary blood vessels that provide blood to the head and neck.

The operation - the anaesthetic

Carotid endarterectomy can be done with either local or general anaesthetic.  Not all instances are appropriate for regional anaesthetic and not all places are able to offer the service.  Your surgeon will guide you as to which means of anaesthetic you will be offered.

For a general anaesthetic, a small needle is placed in your hand. The anaesthetic is injected via the needle and you will be sleeping within a few seconds.


Local anaesthetic

For local anaesthetic, the anaesthetist will inject the skin of your neck to numb it.  In the carotid endarterectomy operation, if you feel any discomfort, the surgeon will inject you with more local anaesthetic.  You will also be provided with some sedation, and as a consequence, you may not be very conscious of the operation at all.  Occasionally it can be necessary to switch to a short general anaesthetic during the operation.

A tube (catheter) may be put into your bladder to drain your urine.

A drip is put into a vein in your arm (wrist usually) to give you some fluids following surgery.  Sometimes, a second drip will be placed into an artery at wrist level to allow careful blood pressure monitoring during and just after the operation.