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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about atherectomy?
Atherectomy is a procedure used to remove plaque that narrows or blocks your arteries. Plaque is fat, cholesterol, or tissues that build up on the inner artery wall. Blood flow is decreased when plaque builds up and narrows the arteries. Decreased blood flow can cause chest pain or a heart attack.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
- Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure.
- Arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
- Tell your healthcare provider about any allergies you have. Tell him or her if you have ever had an allergic reaction to local anesthesia.
- Tell your provider about all the medicines you currently take. Include prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any of these before the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure.
- You may need blood tests, an EKG, or a chest x-ray before your procedure.
What will happen during the procedure?
A small incision will be made in your groin, arm, or wrist. A catheter will be inserted into your artery and moved to the blockage. Contrast liquid may be used to help your surgeon see the blockage clearly. He or she will use a cutting device to remove the plaque from your artery. Your incision will be closed with stitches.
What should I expect after the procedure?
- You will need to lie flat and still for a few hours. Healthcare providers will get you up to walk as soon as possible to help prevent blood clots.
- A bandage or pressure device may be put on your incision area to prevent bleeding.
- Medicines may be given to manage pain or nausea. Antiplatelets, such as aspirin, may be given to help prevent blood clots.
What are the risks of the procedure?
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your artery may be damaged or tear. Your arteries may become completely blocked during the procedure. This stops blood flow and may lead to a heart attack. You may need coronary artery bypass graft surgery. You may get a blood clot in your limb. This may become life-threatening.
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