In this minimally-invasive procedure, a catheter equipped with a balloon and cutting device is used to remove plaque from an obstructed coronary artery. The coronary arteries are the arteries that provide blood to the heart muscles. Directional atherectomy is typically most appropriate for the removal of softer types of plaque.
In preparation for the procedure, the patient is positioned and anesthesia is administered. The physician makes a tiny incision in the groin and places a catheter into the femoral artery. The catheter is pushed up through the femoral artery and into the aorta. It is carefully guided through the aorta to the heart and into the obstructed coronary artery.
The cutting device is inserted and positioned next to the obstruction. A balloon on the back side of the device is inflated to guide the opening of the cutting device over the plaque.
The blade is activated to trim away the plaque. The plaque is trapped in a chamber behind the blade. When the trimming is complete, the balloon is deflated. The catheter is carefully pulled back out of the coronary artery and then withdrawn from the body. The plaque is removed with the chamber.
When the procedure is complete, the incision is closed and the patient is taken to a recovery room for monitoring. The patient may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two after the procedure.