What is an atherectomy?

Atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure similar to angioplasty. It is performed to cut away plaque that has built up in the arteries. After the plaque is removed, a stent may be placed to keep the artery open.

Why is it done?

Atherectomy is useful in situations where hard plaque, with a lot of calcium, is blocking an artery. Removal of this blockage restores blood flow through the artery. This procedure is particularly helpful to remove blockages in vessels not easy to treat with stents, or where arteries are branching.

What is done?
  • You will be given a mild sedative intravenously to induce local anesthesia.
  • A catheter carrying a rotating shaver is introduced into your femoral artery through a small incision in the groin area.
  • The plaque causing narrowing or blockage of the artery is scraped away and collected in a chamber at the tip of the catheter.
  • Your surgeon will then inject contrast dye and take an X-ray to look for any changes in the artery. The catheter is removed after this step.
What can you expect?
  • It takes around two hours to complete an atherectomy procedure with additional time for preparation and recovery.
  • You will have to remain lying down for a few hours.
  • Your hospital stay may be one or two days if all goes well.
  • You may start walking within 12 to 24 hours.
  • You can probably resume driving and exercise after several days, as per your doctor’s advice.