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Coronary Rotational Atherectomy

Coronary rotational atherectomy is a procedure that is similar to angioplasty, where a catheter with a balloon at its end is inserted and inflated to open a blocked artery. Sometimes, however, the blockage in the artery has calcified, or hardened. In this case, the angioplasty is unable to work against the plaque. During rotational atherectomy the plaque is ground into minuscule particles, which is then cleaned from the bloodstream.


The cardiologists use a special catheter that has an egg-shaped metal burr on its tip. This burr rotates between 140,000 and 200,000 times per minute, breaking up the plaque and ablating, or destroying, it. This process lasts no more than 15 to 20 seconds. Tests are performed and then the rotation process is repeated several times. Angioplasty and stenting may also be combined with this procedure.