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Discharge Instructions for Carotid Endarterectomy 

A carotid endarterectomy restores normal blood flow through the vessels that carry blood to your brain. These vessels are called the carotid arteries. During the surgery, a surgeon made a small incision in the side of your neck, just below your jaw. The artery was opened and the blockage was cleared. This procedure was done to reduce your risk of a stroke. A stroke can occur when the carotid arteries are severely blocked or narrowed.

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Ask a friend or family member to help with chores.

Home care

  • Spend your first few days after surgery resting at home. You can do quiet activities such as reading or watching TV.

  • Take your medicines exactly as instructed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Check your incision every day for signs of infection. These include redness, swelling, drainage, or warmth.

  • Keep the wound dry until your healthcare provider says it's OK to shower. Don't scrub your incision.

  • Shave carefully around your incision. You may want to use an electric razor.

  • Know that you may have some loss of feeling along your jaw line, the incision line, and earlobe. This is a result of the incision. Feeling should come back in 6 to 12 months.

  • Slowly increase your activity. It may take some time for you to return to your normal activities.

  • Don't do strenuous activity for 7 to 10 days after your surgery.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery.

  • Don’t drive until your healthcare provider says it’s OK. This will most likely be 1 to 2 weeks.

  • Ask your healthcare provider when you can expect to return to work.

Long-term changes at home

  • Eat a healthy diet. Make sure your diet is low in fat, cholesterol, and calories. Ask your healthcare provider for menus and other diet help.

  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

  • After you recover from surgery, try to exercise more. Do as much walking as you can. Ask your healthcare provider for more tips.

  • If you smoke, ask your healthcare provider for help quitting. 

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Neck swelling

  • Redness, pain, swelling, or fluid from your incision

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

When to call 911

A stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 right away if you have any of these symptoms of a stroke:

  • Weakness, tingling, or loss of feeling on one side of your face or body

  • Sudden double vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Sudden trouble talking or slurred speech

  • Sudden, severe headache

B.E. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. When you see these signs, call 911 fast.

B.E. F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • B is for balance. Sudden loss of balance or coordination.

  • E is for eyes. Vision changes in one or both eyes.

  • F is for face drooping. One side of the face is drooping or numb. When the person smiles, the smile is uneven.

  • A is for arm weakness. One arm is weak or numb. When the person lifts both arms at the same time, one arm may drift downward.

  • S is for speech difficulty. You may notice slurred speech or trouble speaking. The person can't repeat a simple sentence correctly when asked.

  • T is for time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 right away. Make note of the time the symptoms first appeared.

Online Medical Reviewer: Anne Fetterman RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Deepak Sudheendra MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2022
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