A carotid endarterectomy is surgery to remove blockage in the blood vessels leading to your brain.
Care of the Incision
Most carotid endarterectomy incisions are closed under the skin so there are no sutures on the outside. You may shower, but do not soak in the bath. You may allow the water to flow gently over the area. Do not rub the incision. After your shower, gently pat dry. When shaving, be careful to avoid the incision.
It is normal to have some numbness along your incision, neck, and earlobe. This numbness may decrease with time.
It is normal to have some pain at the incision and in your neck. Your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to use at home. This is often the same type you have been getting in the hospital. As time passes, the pain will decrease, and you may use acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil®).
By the time you go home, you may be doing some of your normal activities. You may tire more easily than before surgery. This is normal. Your strength and energy level will increase as your body heals.
You should sleep with your head raised on at least 2 pillows. This will help decrease the swelling that may still be present in your neck.
What to Avoid
1. No lifting more than 10-15 pounds for 2 weeks.
2. No driving until advised by your doctor. It may be hard to turn your head due to neck pain.
3. Avoid contact sports or heavy exercise.
4. Your new scar will require sunscreen for the rest of your life. Start using sunscreen after 4 weeks. Protect your scar with a scarf or clothing before that time.
5. Ask your doctor at your follow-up visit when you may return to work and resume sexual activity.
You may resume your normal diet when you return home. Drink plenty of liquids (8-10 8 oz. glasses of water per day) and eat foods high in fiber (whole grain breads and cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables) to prevent constipation and straining to have a bowel movement. If this does not help, use a stool softener (such as Colace®) or a laxative.
You will return for a clinic visit in ____ weeks.
When to Call 911
The symptoms below can be life-threatening. If you notice them, call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room right away even if they last only a few seconds or minutes. These are warning signs of a stroke and early treatment is vital.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or a fall.
- Sudden dimness or loss of vision, especially in one eye.
- Difficulty speaking or trouble understanding speech.
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
When to Call your Doctor
Twice each day you should look at your incision. Watch for signs of infection. If you notice any of theses signs or symptoms, please call your doctor.
- An increase in redness or warmth at the area of the incision or red streaks on your skin coming from the wound.
- A bulging or swelling at the incision.
- Any new drainage or bleeding, or your incision opens.
- Fever greater than 100.5° F (38.1°C) by mouth. If it is still more than 100.5° F after 4 hours, call your doctor.
- Pain or numbness that worsens or numbness in a new area.
- Problems with constipation.
If you have more questions once you are home, please call:
_________________________ Clinic from 8:00 to 5:00 pm at
After hours, nights, weekends, and holidays, this number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the _____________________ surgeon on call. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 06/06/2012
Copyright © 06/06/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4918
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