How do I prepare for the atherectomy?

A few days before the procedure, pre-procedure tests may be performed to ensure that it is safe to continue with the procedure. You may need to discontinue certain medications before the procedure. Your health care team will provide specific instructions to help you prepare.

What happens during the procedure?

The atherosclerosis atherectomy will be performed under local anesthesia with a mild sedative given intravenously. Your surgeon will insert a catheter equipped with a sharp blade at its tip and advance it through your artery until it reaches the area of narrowing. Your surgeon will then scrape away the plaque with the catheter blade. The plaque will be collected in a chamber in the tip of the catheter for removal. The surgeon may need to pass the catheter multiple times in order to remove a significant amount of atherosclerosis.

How long does the atherectomy procedure last?

The procedure itself generally takes two hours, but the preparation and recovery time add several hours. Following the procedure, you will need to lie flat for three to six hours. The surgery may require a minimum hospital stay of one to two days.

What happens after the procedure?

You can usually begin normal activities again several days after the atherectomy. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines for your recovery.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2019.

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