Endarterectomy is a vascular surgery to remove plaque build-up from an artery.

Although this may sound complex, endarterectomy is a common treatment used to restore blood flow in various arteries, including the carotid artery and the femoral artery. Carotid arteries are large blood vessels in your neck responsible for supplying oxygen-rich blood to your brain. The femoral artery is the main artery that carries blood to your lower limbs.

When blockages in an artery restrict blood flow, it can cause serious complications.

As one of the most comprehensive endovascular programs in North Carolina, our board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons are skilled in performing endarterectomies.

What to Expect During Your Endarterectomy

At Wake Forest Baptist Health, our team of vascular surgeons performs endarterectomy in a dedicated endovascular operating room.

Our specially trained anesthesiologists give you medicine to help you relax. Most patients are put under general anesthesia (you are asleep for the entire procedure) but in some cases, your doctor may choose to use local anesthesia so you can provide feedback during the operation.

During surgery, your vascular surgeon makes a small incision in either your neck or your leg, gaining access to the appropriate artery.

Your surgeon will either use clamps to stop blood flow on either side of the blockage or use a shunt to reroute the blood around the artery to other blood vessels in the area.

Next, your surgeon will open the artery and remove the plaque, often in one piece.

If a vein graft is required, your surgeon will take a portion of vein from your leg and sew it on to your artery to strengthen it.

When your endarterectomy is complete, your surgeon will remove the shunt and close your incisions with stitches.

Your procedure will take about an hour. After an endarterectomy, you will recuperate in an intensive care unit (ICU) dedicated to Heart and Vascular Center patients. Here, your care is led by nurses and nurse practitioners with specialized training in vascular disease.