Like coronary angioplasty, an atherectomy is performed to clear narrowed blood vessels in your heart. There are two different types of atherectomies: Directional Coronary Atherectomy (DCA) and Rotational Atherectomy (RA). In both procedures, a catheter is inserted into your inner thigh and guided to the blockage caused by plaque.
During directional coronary atherectomy, a guiding catheter is put into place and fluid is injected which can be seen by an x-ray machine. Your cardiologist then threads the atherectomy device through the guiding catheter. The device has a rotating cutter in the housing unit that shaves plaque (cholesterol build-up).
Rotational atherectomy, commonly called “Rotablator,” is indicated in patients with coronary artery disease. The rotablator’s main component consists of a steel burr embedded with very fine diamond particles rotating at up to 200,000 RPM by an external air turbine. As a result, the high rotational speed of the burr pulverizes the calcified plaque into microscopic particles. These microscopic calcified particles, smaller than a red blood cell, then pass through the blood stream.
To test the success of the procedure, your doctor removes the atherectomy device and injects more fluid into the catheter. Your doctor can see that the blood flow through your artery has improved. If the optimal result is not achieved solely with directional or rotational atherectomy, balloon angioplasty and/or stent may be used to enhance the result.
When the procedure is completed, you recover on a monitored floor, where your progress is watched closely by your specialized cardiac care group. Most often, patients are sent home from the hospital within one or two days.