The Heart and Vascular Clinic Nashville, TN

What Is An Atherectomy?

An Atherectomy is a procedure in which a specialized catheter is guided to the blocked artery and used to scrape and collect plaque and buildup that is restricting blood flow. It is a lot like an Angioplasty, but differs in that it uses a specialized catheter to scrape and remove plaque from the artery.

When Might I Need An Atherectomy?

If your arteries are blocked by plaque (especially hardened plaque), you may need to have an Atherectomy in order to prevent a heart attack. This procedure may also be conducted in order to make room in the artery for the placement of a stent, or to effectively treat peripheral arterial disease.

What Should I Expect?

An Atherectomy typically takes about two hours, but will require several hours of medical supervision. After the procedure is done, you may be required to stay in a recovery room for a couple of days.

During an Atherectomy, you will be hooked up to an IV (which will help relax you and keep you hydrated) and will be given a local anesthetic. Next, the specialized catheter will be inserted (typically at the groin), and a “contrast dye” will be injected into the blood stream. Using this dye and an x-ray machine, the surgeon will be able to easily identify areas of blockage. Once the contrast dye is injected, the catheter will be guided by the surgeon to the blocked area. When the catheter reaches the blockage, the surgeon will scrape the plaque from the area and collect it in a container on the catheter. The surgeon may inject more “contrast dye” after the procedure in order to re-evaluate blood flow and confirm the effectiveness of the procedure.

How Should I Prepare For The Procedure?

To prepare for an Atherectomy, be sure to discuss any allergies or medical conditions you may have with your doctor. You should also discuss all medications you are currently taking.

The day before your Atherectomy, you may be asked to take certain medications that will help prevent clotting during the procedure.

After the procedure, you will typically be required to stay under medical supervision for a couple of days, so you may want to pack a small bag of personal items (i.e. toothbrush). You may be on bed rest for a day or so, so you may want to pack a book or some crossword puzzles, as well.

If you have any questions about the Atherectomy procedure, please ask your doctor during your next visit.

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