An atherectomy cuts away the plaque responsible for blocking or narrowing an artery. Your doctor can use a few different devices depending on the location and severity of the blockage.
- Directional atherectomy uses a catheter with a small, mechanically driven cutter that shaves the plaque and stores it in a collection chamber. This device is effective in large arteries with soft blockages.
- Extraction atherectomy uses a special catheter, called a transluminal extraction catheter (TEC), which has a rotating cutter. The device removes plaque particles through a vacuum suction system while it cuts.
- Rotational atherectomy uses a high-speed rotating diamond chip burr, called a Rotablator®, which mashes plaque into very small particles. These particles can usually pass harmlessly through the coronary arteries. This device works best on hardened calcified blockages.