Surgical Pitfalls in Carotid Endarterectomy: A New Step-By-Step Approach

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Abstract

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is a surgical intervention that may prevent stroke in asymptomatic and symptomatic patients. Our aim was to examine the microsurgical anatomy of carotid artery and other related neurovascular structures to summarize the CEA that is currently applied in ideal conditions. The upper necks of 2 adult cadavers (4 sides) were dissected using ×3 to ×40 magnification. The common carotid artery, external carotid artery (ECA), and internal carotid artery were exposed and examined. The surgical steps of CEA were described using 3-D cadaveric photos and computed tomography angiographic pictures obtained with help of OsiriX imaging software program. Segregating certain neurovascular and muscular structures in the course of CEA significantly increased the exposure. The division of facial vein allowed for internal jugular vein to be mobilized more laterally and dividing the posterior belly of digastric muscle resulted in an additional dorsal exposure of almost 2 cm. Isolating the ansa cervicalis that pulls hypoglossal nerve inferiorly allowed hypoglossal nerve to be released safely medially. The locations of the ECA branches alter depending on their anatomical variations. The hypoglossal nerve, glossopharyngeal nerve, and accessory nerve pierce the fascia of the upper part of the carotid sheath and they are vulnerable to injury because of their distinct courses along the surgical route. Surgical exposure in CEA requires meticulous dissection and detailed knowledge of microsurgical anatomy of the neck region to avoid neurovascular injuries and to determine the necessary surgical maneuvers in cases with neurovascular variations.

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