Atherectomy is a medical procedure that involves removing plaque buildup from inside an artery. Plaque is a fatty substance that can accumulate inside blood vessels, leading to a narrowing of the artery and reduced blood flow. Atherectomy is used to treat this condition, known as atherosclerosis.
During an atherectomy, a thin catheter is inserted into the artery through a small incision in the skin. The catheter has a device at the end that can cut, shave, or vaporize the plaque, depending on the type of atherectomy being performed. The catheter is guided to the site of the blockage using X-ray imaging, and the plaque is removed from the artery.
There are different types of atherectomy procedures, including rotational, directional, and laser atherectomy. The choice of procedure depends on the location and severity of the blockage, as well as the patient’s overall health.
Atherectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient can usually go home the same day. It is typically used in cases where other treatments, such as medication or angioplasty, have not been effective in treating the blockage.
Atherectomy Can Be Risky
As with any medical procedure, atherectomy carries certain risks. These risks can vary depending on the type of atherectomy being performed, the location of the blockage, and the overall health of the patient. Some potential risks associated with atherectomy include:
- Bleeding or hematoma at the insertion site
- Infection at the insertion site
- Damage to the artery or other nearby structures
- Embolization of plaque or other material, which can lead to stroke or other complications
- Allergic reaction to contrast dye used during the procedure
- Kidney damage from the contrast dye
- Blood clots or thrombosis
- Restenosis or re-narrowing of the artery
According to some estimates, several hundred thousand atherectomy procedures are performed each year in the United States alone.
Atherectomy is typically used as a treatment option for patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the limbs. PAD affects an estimated 8.5 million people in the United States, and the incidence is expected to increase as the population ages and risk factors such as diabetes and obesity become more common. In addition to treating PAD, atherectomy may also be used to treat blockages in other parts of the body, such as the carotid arteries or coronary arteries. The exact number of procedures performed each year will depend on the prevalence of these conditions and the availability of atherectomy as a treatment option in different regions.
Shape Sensing Can Improve the Safety of Atherectomy Procedures
Shape sensing technology has the potential to reduce some of the risks associated with atherectomy procedures by providing real-time information about the location and shape of the catheter within the artery. This information can help the physician guide the catheter more accurately and avoid damage to the artery or other nearby structures.
One of the main risks associated with atherectomy is the possibility of damage to the artery or other nearby structures, such as nerves or veins. This can occur if the catheter is not properly positioned or if the physician is unable to accurately visualize the location of the catheter within the artery. Shape sensing technology can help to mitigate this risk by providing real-time information on the shape and location of the catheter, allowing the physician to adjust the position as needed and avoid potential complications.
Another risk is embolization of plaque or other material, which can lead to stroke or other complications. Shape sensing technology can help to reduce this risk by providing more precise control over the catheter and minimizing the risk of dislodging plaque or other debris.
Shape sensing technology has the potential to reduce the use of X-rays and contrast dye during procedures. Currently, X-ray imaging is used to guide the catheter to the site of the blockage and to visualize the location and shape of the catheter within the artery. Contrast dye is also used to help highlight the artery and guide the catheter to the blockage.
However, shape sensing technology can provide real-time feedback on the location and shape of the catheter and significantly reduce the need for X-rays or contrast dye. This can minimize the patient and medical team’s exposure to radiation and contrast dye, which can be harmful in large amounts.
Overall, shape sensing technology has the potential to improve the safety and efficacy of atherectomy procedures by providing real-time feedback on the location and shape of the catheter, allowing physicians to perform the procedure more accurately and with greater confidence.