Due to procedures such as carotid endarterectomy, strokes, which have been the third-most leading cause of death in the U.S., have declined in recent years. Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes plaque blocking the flow of the carotid artery. This is a very risky procedure, but one that may be worth it for those who have a high risk of having a stroke.
Any patients that are recommended for a carotid endarterectomy by their doctors are advised to weigh both the benefits and the risks before deciding whether to have the surgery.
The first step of the surgery is to put the patient under using general anesthesia. There are some surgeons who want to test the patient’s neurological status during surgery and therefore want the patient to be responsive and not completely under. After anesthesia has been administered an incision will be made right above the affected area of the carotid artery, in the neck.
The blood flow will be redirected around the area under surgery to the brain by inserting a catheter, which is a flexible plastic tube. This will allow the surgeon to open up the carotid artery so that he or she can remove any plaque that is blocking it. Once the plaque is removed, the artery is closed with stitches. The blood flow is then reverted back to normal.
This is a delicate operation that generally takes between two and four hours. After surgery is completed the patient is kept at the hospital overnight for observation. Because the procedure is so delicate there are several risks that include; bleeding, infection, blood clots, seizures, high or low blood pressure, damage to the carotid artery, damage to the nerves in the neck, brain damage, and stroke.
If the surgeon does not abide by the accepted standards of practice when operating on a patient, that patient, or any family of that patient, has the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A breach of the standards of practice concerning carotid endarterectomy include failing to employ or supervise anesthesia, unnecessary surgery, improper pre-operation or post-operation care, failing to quickly respond to any complications that arise, prescribing or administering unsuitable medications, and doing damage to any of the other organs or systems during the surgery.