Other Names:
Percutaneous Transluminal Rotational Atherectomy (PTRA)
Cutting Balloon
Rotablation or Rotating Shaver
Laser Catheterization

Atherectomy is a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) performed by an interventional cardiologist to open a narrowed or blocked coronary artery and restore blood flow. Patients who are not candidates for balloon angioplasty may benefit from atherectomy, where a high-speed drill or LASER on the tip of a catheter is used to shave, cut, vaporize, or break plaque away from an artery wall.

Several different techniques and devices have been developed to perform atherectomy, including:

• cutting balloon catheters
• rotating rotoblation catheters
• vaporizing LASER catheters

The plaque particles that are produced during the atherectomy process are either collected and removed during the atherectomy process or small enough to be washed away in the blood stream and filtered out by the liver and spleen. The type of atherectomy catheter used depends on the location, length, and number of blockages as well as the preference of the cardiologist. Balloon angioplasty or stenting may be used after an atherectomy.


American Heart Association www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4433
Penn State Heart & Vascular Institute http://www.hmc.psu.edu/heartandvascular/programs/interventional/cardiology/atherectomy.htm
Cleveland Clinic www.clevelandclinic.org/heartcenter/pub/guide/disease/cad/treatment_interventional.htm