WHAT IS AN ATHERECTOMY?
An atherectomy is a procedure to remove plaque from an artery. Removing plaque makes the artery wider and allows improvement in blood flow. In an atherectomy, the plaque is shaved with an instrument that has tiny rotating blades or vaporized away by laser.
WHY MIGHT I NEED AN ATHERECTOMY?
You may need an atherectomy if significant blockage or narrowing, caused by plaque, is found during an angiogram. Plaque is the buildup of fat, cholesterol, calcium, or other substances along the artery wall. The buildup of plaque is called atherosclerosis. As plaque builds, it decreases the diameter of the artery, restricting or blocking blood flow. Plaque can also rupture, causing blood clots or emboli in smaller vessels.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF AN ATHERECTOMY?
• Bleeding, swelling caused by a collection of blood (hematoma), injury to nerves, or infection.
• Damage to an artery or an artery wall. This can cause blood clots, abnormal ballooning of the artery, or abnormal link between the artery and nearby vein.
• Temporary kidney failure. Please notify your provider if you have had recent imaging testing that included contrast, as this would increase your risk for kidney issues.
TELL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IF YOU:
• Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Radiation exposure during pregnancy may lead to birth defects.
• Are allergic to or sensitive to any medications, contrast, latex, tape, or anesthetic medicines (local or general).
• Have kidney failure or other kidney problems. In some cases, the contrast can cause kidney failure. You are at higher risk for this if you take certain diabetes medicines. You may need to hold certain medications prior to the procedure.
• Are taking any medication that include prescriptions, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements.
• Have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners, aspirin, or medications or supplements that affect blood clotting. These may have to be stopped prior to the procedure.
HOW DO I GET READY FOR A ATHERECTOMY?
• You will need to have blood work prior to your procedure. You should receive an order from your physician.
• You will be asked not to eat after midnight prior to the procedure. You may have clear liquids 2 hours before your arrival time.
• Bring your insurance card and picture ID with you to the appointment. You may bring an adult guest with you.
• You will need a driver to your appointment. If you need transportation, please let the office know so that we can arrange it for you.
WHAT HAPPENS PRIOR TO AN ATHERECTOMY?
• You will read and sign your consent that gives your permission for the procedure to be performed. You will have the opportunity to ask your provider questions and have anything explained that you do not understand.
• You will be asked to remove any clothing or jewelry that may get in the way of the test. You will be given a gown to wear. You will be asked to empty your bladder prior to the test.
• An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your hand or arm. You will be connected to a monitor that records your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing.
• You may get medication to help you relax before the procedure.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING AN ATHERECTOMY?
An atherectomy can be performed when significant blockage, narrowing, or plaque is identified during an angiogram. The area that needs treatment is identified, and the instrument is advanced to the specific location. The lesion is treated with a rotational device or laser. Percutaneous balloon angioplasty may be used to further widen the artery and improve blood flow through the vessel. Images after atherectomy and ballooning will be taken to confirm desired results.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN ATHERECTOMY?
• You will be taken to the recovery room. A nurse will watch your vital signs and the access
site(s). They will check the circulation and sensation in your extremities.
• Depending on the closure device used, you will be discharged after a period of rest and no signs of bleeding.
• You will be encouraged to drink water and fluids to help flush the contrast from your body.
• You will receive written discharge instructions about returning to your daily activities and how to care for your bandage and incision site.
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