Atherectomy is a minimally invasive surgical method of removing atherosclerosis from a large blood vessel. It is generally used to treat peripheral arterial disease of the lower extremities.

The procedure involves making an incision in the groin area and inserting a catheter into the femoral artery and carefully guiding it to the blockage. The surgeon uses live X-ray pictures to see the artery and monitor the blood flow inside the artery. This kind of X-ray is called fluoroscopy.

The surgeon then passes a guide wire through the catheter. The guide wire carries an atherectomy device to the blockage. Unlike angioplasty, where the buildup is pushed to the sides by a balloon to improve blood flow, the plaque is totally removed. This occurs when the atherectomy device either shaves part of the plaque away or grinds it up with a spinning diamond-tipped bur. This procedure is known as rotational atherectomy or rotablator.

After as much plaque as possible is removed but blood flow is still not restored, a stent may be inserted via the catheter and left in place to help keep the artery open.

Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.

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