There are four carotid arteries, with a pair located on each side of the neck. This includes the right- and left-internal carotid arteries, and the right- and left-external carotid arteries. The carotid arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to both the head and brain.
When the carotid arteries become blocked with cholesterol plaques (atherosclerotic plaques), blood flow to the brain is compromised. Also, small pieces of plaque can break off and block small arteries in the brain. This blockage of the blood vessels can cause transient-ischemic attacks and strokes.
While you are deep asleep and pain-free, an incision is made in the neck, over the blocked carotid artery. A tube is inserted above and below the blockage to re-direct the blood flow. Fat and cholesterol build-ups are removed from the carotid artery. The artery is stitched (sutured) closed, the tube is removed, and the incision is closed.
A normal hospital stay is one to three days after surgery. Avoid bending the neck sharply in any direction.
Reviewed By: Daniel Kantor, MD, Kantor Neurology, Coconut Creek, FL and Immediate Past President of the Florida Society of Neurology (FSN), Gainesville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.