What Are the Risks Associated With Carotid Artery Surgery?

Risks of carotid artery surgery include seizures, brain damage, heart attack, gradual blockage of the carotid artery and infection, according to MedlinePlus. Carotid artery surgery may also result in inflammation of the area around the airway, stroke and formation of clots in the brain. Because doctors perform carotid artery surgery under general anesthesia, other possible risks include difficulty breathing and medicinal allergic reactions.

Carotid artery surgery is the removal of plaque from the carotid arteries to enhance blood supply to the brain in patients who experience lack of proper blood supply to the brain, explains Healthgrades. The procedure treats carotid artery stenosis and prevents occurrence of stroke. Types of Carotid artery surgery include carotid endarterectomy, and carotid artery angioplasty and stenting. Carotid endarterectomy is a type of carotid artery surgery in which a surgeon opens the neck carotid arteries and removes the inner plaqued lining of the arteries to enhance blood flow to the brain. In carotid artery angiosplasty and stenting, a surgeon widens the carotid artery by placing in a catheter through the groin or elbow blood vessels, and puts a stent in the artery to keep the artery open, enhancing sufficient blood supply to the brain.

To determine the amount of plaque in the carotid artery, a surgeon may perform carotid angiography or carotid ultrasound before the surgery, states Healthgrades. While carotid angiography is an imaging test of the carotid arteries, carotid ultrasound involves screening the carotid arteries to determine their ability to pass the blood.