Discharge Instructions for Carotid Endarterectomy 

A carotid endarterectomy is the most common way to restore 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, which can occur when the carotid arteries are severely blocked or narrowed.

Man bringing grocery bags into kitchen while another man puts groceries away.
Ask a friend or family member to help with chores, especially those that involve lifting.

Home care

  • Spend your first few days after surgery relaxing at home. It's OK to do quiet activities such as reading or watching TV.

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

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

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

  • Avoid 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.

  • Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to work.

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

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

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

  • Don’t be alarmed if you have some loss of feeling along your jaw line, the incision line, and earlobe. This is a result of the incision and usually goes away after 6 to 12 months.

Long-term changes at home

  • Eat a healthy, low-fat, low cholesterol, and low calorie diet. Ask your doctor for menus and other diet information.

  • Maintain your ideal body weight.

  • After you have recovered from surgery, try to exercise more, especially walking. Ask your doctor for guidance.

  • If you smoke, ask your doctor for help quitting. 

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor as directed.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following (or go to the emergency room if your doctor's office is closed):

  • Neck swelling

  • Headache, particularly if it does not go away after a couple of hours

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

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Numbness or weakness in your face, arms, or legs

  • Sudden changes in your vision

  • Loss of vision in 1 eye

  • Trouble speaking

  • Trouble breathing

  • Trouble swallowing

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