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 - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago

Carotid Artery Endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is the surgical removal of atherosclerotic plaque from the carotid arteries. Atherosclerosis is a slow process in which deposits of fat, cholesterol, and calcium build up inside the artery. These deposits are called plaque. Like the inside of a rusty water pipe, the wall of the artery becomes rough, hard, and more narrow. CEA is performed as an open procedure, through a standard incision in the neck. CEA opens the artery to allow for normal blood flow to the brain and prevent plaque or emboli from going to the brain.

Risk & Carotid Endarterectomy

There is some risk with every operation, including carotid endarterectomy. The risk varies with each person, the extent of the carotid artery disease and the type of surgery. Your surgeon will discuss with you the benefits and risks of your surgery. The risks may include the following:

  • Bruising, skin discoloration and swelling after surgery
  • Minor nerve damage. May include difficulty in swallowing, tongue coordination, ear lobe numbness and other symptoms
  • Sore throat and hoarseness
  • Stroke (in rare cases)

Clinical Trials for Carotid Artery Disease

Ongoing clinical research trials at the Center for Vascular Disease are investigating new treatments options for carotid artery disease to ensure that our patients continue to receive the most innovative care in the country.


For more information regarding carotid artery disease, please contact the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 1-866-662-8467 or request a first time appointment online.

Last UpdateApril 4, 2012