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Cardiovascular Services: Atherectomy

An atherectomy is a procedure to remove plaque from an artery (blood vessel) and restore blood flow to the heart. Beebe performs both cardiac (coronary) laser and diamondback atherectomies in our advanced interventional cardiology labs at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus.

Who is a candidate for an Atherectomy procedure?

Patients who have plaque buildup inside their artery walls and who are experiencing heart issues or symptoms related to this buildup are candidates for an atherectomy.

The coronary arteries supply blood, oxygen and nutrients to your heart. A buildup of plaque can narrow these arteries, decreasing blood flow to your heart. Eventually, the reduced blood flow may cause chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms.

In addition to developing feet and leg issues, clogged arteries can cause you to experience dizzy, weak feelings, and heart palpitations. You may also sweat, feel nauseated, or have difficulty breathing.

What is done during an Atherectomy procedure?

An atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure performed on blocked arteries in the extremities where the offending plaque is pulverized (the “roto-rooter” procedure).

During the procedure, a cardiology and interventional cardiology team will insert a catheter from your leg or groin and direct it into the blocked artery. Once at the area of blockage, the team will use X-ray and echocardiogram technology to use the tip of the catheter to remove the blockages. This can be done using a laser technique or a diamondback technique.

The technique, delivery mechanism and results of the atherectomy are somewhat like an angioplasty. However, the atherectomy pulverizes and removes plaque from the blocked blood vessel wall while the angioplasty compresses the plaque in place against the blood vessel walls. An atherectomy is usually indicated when the plaque blockage is particularly hard or calcified or when blockage returns in a previously placed stent.

In many cases an atherectomy can be performed along with an angioplasty and stent placement with excellent success rates.

Learn how laser atherectomy works

Laser atherectomy uses ultraviolet light to remove plaque buildup in your coronary arteries.

Ultraviolet light has a very short penetration so it doesn't damage the tissues around the blocked site.

Learn how diamondback atherectomy works

The diamondback atherectomy uses a catheter inserted through the leg or groin to thread a unique shaped debulking mechanism. The thread-like device is coated with diamonds and gradually turns to remove the buildup.

Contact Carrie Snyder, Beebe Heart Health Nurse Navigator