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What Is Atherectomy?

An atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure to remove the buildup of plaque from the arteries. The surgeons perform an atherectomy to restore healthy blood flow and relieve symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Patients experiencing CAD symptoms like angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, muscle pain and numbness in the lower limbs, etc. often benefit from an atherectomy procedure. Get in touch with us to consult with some of the best cardiologists for an effective atherectomy treatment.

What Are the Different Types of Atherectomy Procedures?

The coronary arteries become stiff due to the build-up of plaque which can become stiff and narrow. This can increase the severity of the condition, so, the surgeon may choose different surgical methods to remove the stubborn plaque. Depending on the device used, atherectomy can be done in the following ways - 

  • Rotational atherectomy: The surgeon uses small blades in a circular motion to cut the stubborn plaque.
  • Laser atherectomy: The procedure involves high-intensity laser light which vaporizes the plaque to open the blockage.
  • Coronary orbital atherectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon uses a spinning tool which maneuvers in a grinding style to remove the stiffness due to the plaque.
  • Directional atherectomy: The surgeon uses a blade which shaves the plaque in a single direction.

When Should I Consult The Doctor For Atherectomy Procedure?

Atherectomy surgery often relieves patients from the symptoms of coronary artery diseases. Most patients who experience chronic chest pain, dizziness, etc. are at an increased risk of severe cardiac disorder. Therefore, it is advisable to get in touch with a cardiac specialist if your symptoms do not improve with OTC medications or get worse with time. Here are some signs that may call for immediate medical assistance - 

  • Intense pain in the areas around your groin or leg
  • Swelling and Redness
  • Coldness or numbness in the treated leg
  • Muscle pain and numbness in the lower limbs
  • Calf pain while walking that goes away with rest
  • Sores or cuts on the legs or feet that have trouble healing

How To Prepare For Atherectomy Surgery?

Before the atherectomy procedure, the cardiologist reviews the medical report and recommends diagnostic tests to determine the cause and extent of the blockage. Subsequently, the doctor also provides a set of pre-surgery tips to help you prepare for the surgery and prevent any complications. Here are a few tips before the Atherectomy procedure to ensure a smooth surgery and a quick recovery-

  • Discuss your history of medical condition(s) and surgical procedures with the cardiac specialist
  • Stop smoking and consuming alcohol a week before the surgery as they can increase the recovery time
  • Inform your doctor in case you have a history of bleeding disorders
  • Wear loose-fitting and comfortable clothes which do not put pressure on the surgical site
  • Do not eat or drink 8 to 9 hours prior to the surgery. It is generally recommended to not take any meal post-midnight. 
  • Inform your doctor of any ongoing medications and history of an allergic reaction to anesthesia to avoid complications during the surgery
  • Take antibiotics or prescribed medications prior to the surgery as directed by the doctor
  • Once prepared, you or your guardian needs to sign a consent form that gives full authority to proceed with the procedure. So be sure to resolve all your queries regarding the procedure.

What Happens During The Atherectomy?

The anesthesiologist sedates the patient with anaesthesia to help them relax throughout the procedure. The surgeon inserts a catheter into the artery via your groin, upper thigh area, arm, or wrist. The catheter is guided through the blood vessels via an x-ray imaging guide to examine the narrowed artery precisely. 

A dye is injected through the catheter and into the coronary arteries to help the surgeon pinpoint the area of congestion. Subsequently, the plaque is removed with the tiny blades or lasers, attached to the end of the catheter. In some cases, the surgeon may also use a stent procedure or angioplasty after the atherectomy to ensure the arteries stay open. This can reduce the risk of recurrence in the future. Once the plaque is sliced, sanded, or burned away, the catheter is removed, and the incision is closed. 

Recovering After the Atherectomy

After the procedure, you will be shifted to the recovery room where the doctor will monitor your recovery. A medical team will keep a check on your vitals such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, etc., and watch for signs of infections. Subsequently, the doctor may prescribe blood thinners after the atherectomy procedure. It is crucial to follow the medication after the atherectomy procedure to prevent complications. Here are some recovery tips which can help you after the atherectomy surgery-

  • Quit smoking and consuming alcohol
  • Stay physically active
  • Keep your cholesterol levels under check
  • Encourage a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Take regular medications as prescribed by the doctor
  • Go for regular health check-ups

Why Choose BM Birla for Atherectomy Treatment in Kolkata?

BM Birla Heart Research Centre is a super speciality hospital with modern infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology in Kolkata. BM Birla Heart Research Centre is the only hospital offering super speciality cardiac care in the entire eastern India. With a 200+ bed capacity, cardiac rehabilitation services, cath labs and modular OTs, BM Birla Heart Research Centre has made a mark with its singular focus on the treatment of a variety of cardiac ailments. Here are a few advantages of choosing BM Birla Heart Research Centre for atherectomy treatment in Kolkata:

  • Highly qualified and experienced cardiologists
  • Cutting-edge technology and the latest medical equipment
  • The transparent pricing structure for cost-effective treatment. 
  • Patient-centric high-quality care for a high success rate

Get in touch with our expert heart specialists at BM Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata for complete cardiac care. 


What is plaque?

Plaque is the build-up of fat and cholesterol in the coronary arteries. Plaque build-up can obstruct the blood flow, sometimes to an extent that it can cause blood clots. The build-up of plaque leads to a medical condition called atherosclerosis.

Whom should I consult for my atherectomy procedure?

Get in touch with a cardiac specialist if you are experiencing atherosclerosis symptoms. Cardiac specialists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart-related conditions. Since coronary artery disease is common in people above 60 years, consulting a cardiologist who specializes in treating patients with co-morbidities can ensure negligible chances of complications.


Is atherectomy better than angioplasty?

Doctors often prefer directional coronary atherectomy over angioplasty as it provides better clinical results in patients with coronary artery disease. Moreover, an atherectomy procedure can cut deep into the blood vessel to create a tear or hole to allow the surgeon to effectively CAD symptoms. 

What are the advantages of atherectomy?

Atherectomy often relieves PAD symptoms without the need for major surgery. Benefits of atherectomy surgery include - 

  • Quick relief from coronary artery disease symptoms
  • Restores blood and oxygen flow to the heart
  • Faster recovery as compared to traditional procedures
  • Reduced symptoms of atherosclerosis

When can I resume my daily activities after the atherectomy?

Depending on the medical health of the patient, the recovery time varies. But you can probably resume driving and other daily activities within a week after the procedure. However, consult with a cardiologist before engaging in other activities to avoid the risk of complications.

Are there any risks of atherectomy surgery?

Though rare, atherectomy can result in the following complications - 

  • Embolization, which happens when the removed plaque blocks another artery
  • Re-blockage of the artery
  • Prolonged exposure to the X-ray can increase the risk of cancer
  • Allergic reaction to the x-ray contrast dye
  • Impaired kidney functioning 


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