Atherectomy (a·thr·ek·tuh·mee) – sounds more complicated than it is. An atherectomy is a medical procedure to remove plaque from an artery. The goal of the procedure is to improve blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body.
This article will explain the atherectomy process and why people undergo this procedure and the recovery process. Keep reading to keep learning.
Why Do I Need an Atherectomy?
Arteries can become obstructed with a plaque when fat and calcium build up inside the artery wall lining. This is sometimes called calcification of arteries or atherosclerosis. When plaque builds up, blood cannot flow freely to and from the heart.
Plaque build-up can cause peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a circulatory condition where blood to the limbs is restricted. Symptoms of PAD could include cramping, pain, or loss of strength in the lower body. If left untreated, this condition can get worse. A medical professional may suggest an atherectomy if the individual is a good candidate for this procedure.
What Is Atherectomy?
Atherectomy doctors perform atherectomy surgery in a hospital or an atherectomy clinic. Talk to the doctor if you have questions about what to do before the procedure.
During surgery, the atherectomy patient is under local anesthesia and a sedative. The surgeon will use a unique tool similar to a catheter but a sharp blade at the tip. They will insert the catheter tool into an artery (usually in the leg or groin).
The tool is guided through the blood vessel to the heart, where dye is injected into the coronary artery. The dye allows the doctor to find the area where the plaque has built up, and the vessel is narrow. Then, the surgeon will use the catheter tool to scrape away the plaque.
Depending on the severity of the plaque, the surgeon may need to pass the catheter through the area multiple times. The plaque is collected in a small space at the tip of the catheter to be removed from the body. The procedure takes about 2 hours, not including preparation and recovery.
Recovery From an Atherectomy
After an atherectomy, the patient needs to lie flat on their back for 3 to 6 hours. Atherectomy patients usually stay 1 to 2 days in the hospital to recover under supervision from medical professionals.
Patients can usually resume regular activity after a few days. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about the recovery process and what to expect.
Contact Coastal Vascular Center
An atherectomy is a medical procedure to remove plaque from the arteries and increase blood flow to and from the heart. The procedure takes about 2 hours, but the total recovery time may be several days.
At Coastal Vascular Center we help patients with several different vascular conditions including PAD. You can learn more about our practice online or send us a message with questions or book an appointment.