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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.

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 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

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

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • 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.

© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.