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Carotid Surgery

The carotid arteries are the main blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to the brain. In carotid artery disease, these arteries become narrowed. This reduces blood flow to the brain and could cause a stroke. During a carotid endarterectomy, your healthcare provider will surgically remove plaque that builds up inside the carotid artery. He or she will make a cut (incision) on the side of the neck over the affected carotid artery. The artery is opened and the plaque removed. Your healthcare provider will stitch the artery back together. This restores normal blood flow to the brain. You may have this procedure while you are awake under local anesthesia or while you are asleep under general anesthesia. Narrowing of the carotid arteries is most often caused by atherosclerosis. This is a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of the artery. Plaque is made up of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin. Atherosclerosis is also called "hardening of the arteries." It can affect arteries throughout the body.

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