Femoral Endarterectomy

What is Femoral Endarterectomy

Femoral endarterectomy is a procedure to clean a clogged femoral artery. The femoral artery brings blood to the legs. This artery is found in the groin area and can become clogged with plaque.

Plaque is made up of fats (lipids), cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. When the femoral artery is clogged, this condition is called peripheral arterial disease. The plaque may partially or totally block blood flow or cause a clot to form in the femoral artery.

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have, including diabetes or kidney problems.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Allergic reactions to medicines or dyes.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Blood clots. These can form in the legs. Clots that break loose could travel to the heart, lungs, or brain.
  • Return of plaque buildup. This may cause another blockage. This can happen months or years after the procedure.

What happens before the procedure?

  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about eating or drinking restrictions.
  • Ask your health care provider about changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
  • You may need to take medicine to prevent blood clots. Aspirin or blood thinners (anticoagulants) are used for this. Take these medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Plan to have someone take you home after the procedure.
  • If you go home right after the procedure, plan to have someone with you for 24 hours.
  • Ask your health care provider how your surgical site will be marked or identified.
  • You may be given antibiotic medicine to help prevent infection.
  • You may have tests, including:
    • Blood tests.
    • Doppler ultrasonogram. This test uses sound waves to check blood flow through your femoral artery and leg.
    • Angiogram. This is a type of X-ray. A dye is put in your blood so that it will show up on the X-ray.

What happens during the procedure?

  • To reduce your risk of infection:
    • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
    • Your skin will be washed with soap.
  • Small monitors will be placed on your body. These will be used to check your heart, blood pressure, and oxygen level.
  • An IV tube will be inserted into one of your veins.
  • You will be given one or more of the following:
    • A medicine to help you relax (sedative).
    • A medicine to numb the area (local anesthetic).
    • A medicine to make you fall asleep (general anesthetic).
    • A medicine that is injected into your spine to numb the area below and slightly above the injection site (spinal anesthetic).
    • A medicine that is injected into an area of your body to numb everything below the injection site (regional anesthetic).
  • Your surgeon will make a cut (incision) in the groin area above the femoral artery.
  • Your surgeon may put a clamp on the artery above and below the blockage. This will stop blood from flowing through the area.
  • The artery will be cut open. The plaque will be stripped away from the inner walls of the artery.
  • Your surgeon may do an angiogram during the procedure to see where the plaque is and to see when all the plaque is gone.
  • The artery will be closed. Then, the clamp will be removed so that blood can flow through the artery again.
  • Your surgeon will close the incision. Staples or sutures (stitches) may be used.
  • A bandage (dressing) will be placed on the incision.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored often until the medicines you were given have worn off.
  • You may be given medicine for pain.
  • You may have an angiogram to make sure that blood is moving through the artery like it should.
  • Do notdrive for 24 hours if you received a sedative.

Femoral Endarterectomy, Care After

Refer to this sheet in the next few weeks. These instructions provide you with information about caring for yourself after your procedure. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. Your treatment has been planned according to current medical practices, but problems sometimes occur. Call your health care provider if you have any problems or questions after your procedure.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After your procedure, it is common to have pain.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • Do nottake baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your health care provider approves.
  • Keep the bandage (dressing) dry until your health care provider says it can be removed.

Incision care

  • Follow instructions from your health care provider about how to take care of your incision. Make sure you:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water before you change your bandage (dressing). If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
    • Change your dressing as told by your health care provider.
    • Leave stitches (sutures), skin glue, or adhesive strips in place. These skin closures may need to stay in place for 2 weeks or longer. If adhesive strip edges start to loosen and curl up, you may trim the loose edges. Do notremove adhesive strips completely unless your health care provider tells you to do that.
  • Check your incision area every day for signs of infection. Check for:
    • More redness, swelling, or pain.
    • More fluid or blood.
    • Warmth.
    • Pus or a bad smell.


  • Do notdrive for 24 hours if you received a sedative.
  • Do notdrive or operate heavy machinery while taking prescription pain medicine.


  • Until your health care provider approves:
    • Do notdo any heavy lifting, physical work, or strenuous exercise.
    • Do nottake long car trips.
    • Do nottravel by air.
    • Do notsit or stand for long periods of time. When you sit or lie down, raise your legs above the level of your heart.
    • Do notclimb stairs.
  • Walk regularly as told by your health care provider. This helps with healing and helps to prevent blood clots.
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.


  • Do notuse tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Exercise regularly or as instructed by your health care provider. Talk with your health care provider before starting a new exercise plan.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. You may need to eat less of some types of food. Good foods are foods that are low in saturated fats. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are good for you.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Talk with your health care provider if you need help.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider. These may include blood thinners (anticoagulants), which keep blood clots from forming.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have more redness, swelling, or pain around your incision.
  • You have more fluid or blood coming from your incision.
  • Your incision feels warm to the touch.
  • You have pus or a bad smell coming from your incision or dressing.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your pain is not controlled with medicine.
  • You have pain in your leg while you walk.

Get help right away if:

  • Your pain is severe.
  • You are short of breath.
  • You have chest pain.
  • Your leg becomes red, swollen, or sore.
  • Your leg or foot changes color.
  • Your leg or foot becomes numb.
  • You have red streaks coming from your incision.

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