What is an atherectomy?

An atherectomy is performed by a physician to remove dangerous amounts of plaque which have built up in the arteries, primarily in the coronary arteries or arteries of the heart.

Why is this procedure done?

Arteries or blood vessels supply blood and oxygen to all parts of your body. Cholesterol and other substances sometimes build-up inside of the arteries and veins. This buildup is called plaque. The medical name for this condition is atherosclerosis.

The build-up of plaque can cause blockage of blood flow resulting in less oxygen delivered to tissue, which can cause tissue damage. If left untreated, this can lead to other health problems.

Doctors will perform either an atherectomy or an angioplasty to remove the plaque and improve blood flow. Your team of healthcare professionals will evaluate your personal needs to decide which treatment is best for you.

What to expect during an atherectomy

An atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed in an operating room and an IV will be administered to give you fluids and medication. The medication will make you sleepy and will help eliminate pain, during the procedure. In addition, a contrast dye will be administered through the IV so the doctor can better see the blockage.

The physician will use x-ray to find the blockage and remove the plaque. On average, the atherectomy takes about 2 hours. Once the procedure is complete, you will be moved to recovery and stay until it is safe for you to go home.

Results to expect from an atherectomy

  • Improved blood flow
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • Less pain, numbness, tingling, coldness, or blue color to the body part that was affected

Common conditions that could require an atherectomy

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

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