In this minimally-invasive procedure, a catheter equipped with a rotating 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. Rotational atherectomy is typically used to remove bulky plaque buildup before the artery is treated with balloon angioplasty or with a stent.
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 guided to the obstruction and activated. This tiny, rotating, diamond-tipped burr grinds through the plaque, breaking it into microscopic bits that can be easily eliminated by the bloodstream.
When the procedure is complete, the catheter is carefully pulled back out of the coronary artery and then withdrawn from the body. The patient is taken to a recovery room for monitoring. The patient may be able to leave the hospital the same day, but often the patient is kept for a day or two after the procedure.