Getting ready for a carotid endarterectomy 

Before being admitted for surgery, you'll have a careful pre-operative assessment.

If a carotid endarterectomy has been arranged in advance, this assessment will usually be carried out at a hospital pre-assessment clinic a few days before you're due to have the procedure. In some cases, you'll be asked to attend the pre-assessment clinic on the day the operation is scheduled.

Alternatively, you may be seen at a specialist clinic if you've recently had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA). Tests to check the health of your arteries will be carried out, and you may be admitted for surgery immediately if your carotid arteries are found to be severely narrowed.

Pre-admission clinic

You'll have a physical examination and be asked about your medical history at a pre-admission clinic. Any further tests or investigations that are needed will also be carried out at this time.

The pre-admission clinic is a good opportunity for you to ask your treatment team about the procedure, although you can discuss any concerns you may have at any time.

If you're taking any medication (prescribed or otherwise), it would be useful to bring it with you to the pre-admission clinic so the details can be noted.

You'll be asked whether you've had anaesthetic (painkilling medication) in the past and whether you experienced any problems or side effects, such as feeling sick. You'll also be asked whether you're allergic to anything to avoid a reaction to any medication you may need during your treatment.

Your treatment team will ask you about your teeth, including whether you wear dentures, have caps or a plate. This is because during the operation you may need to have a tube put down your throat to help you breathe, and loose teeth could be dangerous.

Preparing for surgery

Before having a carotid endarterectomy, your surgeon will discuss how you should prepare. They may give you the following advice:

  • stop smoking – smoking increases your risk of developing a chest infection, can delay healing, and increase your risk of developing a blood clot
  • watch your weight – if you're overweight, losing weight will be recommended, but as strenuous exercise could be dangerous, you'll need to do this by dieting; your GP will be able to advise you about how to lose weight
  • gentle post-op exercise – being active can help your recovery, but you shouldn't overdo it; your surgeon or GP can advise you about how much you can do
  • think positive – a positive mental attitude can help you deal with the stress of surgery and aid your recovery

Read more about preparing for surgery.

Hospital checklist

If you're going into hospital to have surgery, the following list of things to take may be useful: 

  • a change of nightclothes
  • some comfortable clothes
  • slippers and a dressing gown
  • toiletries, including a toothbrush and flannel
  • any medication you're taking, including the details of your medication
  • any equipment you use, such as a walking stick or hearing aid
  • things to pass the time during your stay, such as an iPod, books, stationery, jigsaws, crosswords and sudoku
  • money to use the telephone – you can take your mobile phone with you, but you may not be able to use it on the ward

Most hospitals can cater for most types of diet, including religious requirements. However, you may want to take a few healthy snacks and drinks with you.

Page last reviewed: 20/08/2015

Next review due: 01/08/2018