CardioSpecialists Group, Ltd.
About the Rotablator Procedure

Also called:  Roto Rooter, rotational atherectomy

What Is a Rotablator?

The rotablator is a device inserted into your artery through a tube known as a catheter. Once in your blood vessel, the rotablator spins between 140,000 and 200,000 revolutions per minute. A diamond-tipped burr on the head of the device breaks plaque build up inside the artery. These smaller bits of plaque then harmlessly travel through the blood stream and are eventually eliminated from the body. This procedure is known as rotational atherectomy.

How Is the Procedure Performed?

During the procedure, you might have a temporary pacemaker installed to prevent your heart rate from dropping too low. This will be removed after the procedure is completed. You will be awake during the procedure and given a local anesthetic. The doctor will make a small incision at the top of your thigh and feed the catheter into a blood vessel. He will use an x-ray camera to determine where the catheter is. A dye will be injected so that your doctor can get a picture of the amount of blockage in your artery. A second catheter is inserted into a blood vessel. At the end of this tube is the rotablator. Once your doctor has the device in place, he turns the motor on to break the plaque off the walls of the artery. Some devices have a pouch to collect the plaque, others have a vacuum, but most simply allow the broken plaque to return to the blood stream. It will be in small enough pieces that the body will be able to process and eliminate it from the body.

After the Procedure

Your doctor might couple the rotablator procedure with a balloon angioplasty. This combination has proven to be very effective in treating severely blocked arteries. Your doctor will discuss if other procedures need to be done in addition to the rotablator. After the procedure, you will have to stay overnight at the hospital, and you can likely return to work within two or three days. You might be asked to avoid strenuous exercise for about a month following the procedure, depending upon your doctor's recommendations.

Is It Safe?

The procedure is minimally invasive, but it is not recommended for everyone. If you have had coronary bypass surgery or problems with the functioning of your left ventricles, your doctor will likely suggest another treatment method. In very rare cases, complications such as coronary artery spasm or microembolization could occur. If you have concerns, discuss them with your doctor before the procedure.

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