In cases of moderate to severe atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), the plaque build-up may need to be removed through open surgery to restore your blood flow. Endarterectomy is generally recommended when an artery is more than 50% narrowed, or when the patient is experiencing acute symptoms.

What to expect during treatment

Endarterectomy is used to treat clogged arteries throughout the body, including the carotid, aortic, femoral and pulmonary arteries. It is performed under general or regional anesthesia in the hospital by our cardiovascular surgeons.

Your surgeon will make an incision to expose the artery and, using a shunt or clamp, will temporarily reroute blood flow around the blockage. He or she then makes an incision in the artery itself, and using a scraping tool, removes the plaque, and in some cases, the diseased portions of the artery. The surgery typically lasts about two to three hours, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. A small tube (catheter) may be left near the incision to drain excess fluid.

Endarterectomy usually provides good relief of symptoms, but atherosclerosis can recur unless a healthy lifestyle is adopted. While complications with endarterectomy are rare, all surgery comes with risk. Your vascular specialist will help you understand the risks and benefits for you.


  • Most patients stay overnight for observation and return for a follow-up examination.
  • You can usually begin normal activities several weeks after the operation.
  • Your doctor will provide specific guidelines for your recovery.