At Cross County Cardiology – Mount Sinai, one of the most common conditions we treat is narrowed blood vessels. Called atherosclerosis, this condition results from the buildup of cholesterol plaque within the arteries. In many cases, this condition can be treated using angioplasty or by coronary intervention (stent placement). However, some patients have calcium deposits in their leg arteries, which become as hard as bone. For these patients we use a minimally invasive surgical technique called atherectomy. This approach cuts the calcified lesions from the arterial walls.
Types of Atherectomy
There are several types of atherectomy. We use different approaches based on the type of lesion. With each approach, we use a needle to gain access to the blocked artery. Then we use a diamond-tipped drill to shave off the lesion (called rotational, orbital, or directional atherectomy) or a tiny laser to melt the lesions with heat (called laser atherectomy).
An atherectomy can be used as a standalone treatment, or as a first step. Sometimes, after we remove sufficient plaque from the arteries, we then treat them with angioplasty or stenting. Your doctor will talk with you about the best option for your situation.