What can I expect during the procedure?
Atherectomy is performed under local anaesthetic by vascular surgeon Dr Magee. An anaesthetist is also present to ensure comfort, and often a light “twilight” anaesthetic is used. During the procedure, a thin catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the groin area via a tiny nick in the skin. A special dye that can be seen on x-rays is injected into the artery, and x-rays are taken to identify the path and look for blockages.
Flexible catheters and wires are then used to navigate through the arteries to the blockages. The Atherectomy device is then used to shave off and remove the plaque from the artery wall. The device is also designed to capture the removed plaque fragments during the shaving process. A special wire with a filter on the tip is also placed past the blockage as a precaution to ensure no fragments of plaque can travel to other arteries further down the leg.
You may be aware of some noise from the motor as the plaque is being removed, but you won’t feel the device working. When enough plaque has been removed, the artery is usually treated with a special balloon coated with a medication that helps blockages from reforming.
Once the treatment is complete, the catheter is removed and you are sent to recovery. You will need to lie flat for a few hours after the procedure to help prevent any bleeding from the needle hole in the artery.