Rotational Atherectomy is a therapy performed with a small rotating cutting blade which is used to open a blocked artery and revamp the flow of blood to or from the heart. Often a stent (a tiny tube composed of metal mesh) is inserted in the artery to keep it from re-narrowing.
This procedure is useful in the treatment of coronary heart disease in patients with angina pectoris. Over time, plague, a fatty substance made up of cholesterol, calcium and other materials tends to build up in the arteries. This leads to partial or complete chocking of that artery, resulting either into a heart attack, stroke or obstructions in the blood vessels of the legs causing pain. If the plaque is soft enough, it can be easily dissolved by the intervention of a thin tube possessing a tiny balloon at its end. This apparatus is operated by an interventional cardiologist. After placing the tube into the artery, the balloon is opened to knock out the plaque and resurrect the artery to improve blood flow. This procedure is called angioplasty. But when the plaque is too hard to be pushed aside by angioplasty, rotablation or rotational atherectomy comes into play.
Build up of calcium in the artery walls for a prolonged period of time can cause the plague to become extremely rigid and hard. Sometimes, the plague becomes too hard and calcified for an angioplasty balloon to widen the artery open. To work out this problem, medical researchers created a small device known as rotablator. One of its end presents a burr coated in diamond dust and for this reason, it is also known as diamond rotor. Once the drill head has been drawn into the concerned artery, the area is stretched using balloon angioplasty. In many cases, high pressure balloons are employed for the stents to fully expand. Next comes the implantation of drug-eluting stents. These stents release a drug over time to keep blockage of the artery from recurring. This ensures satisfactory treatment results over the long term.
The rotablator drills through the hardened plaque, breaking it up into tiny pieces as it operates. The body is then able to safely pick up these small pieces of plaque by the bloodstream and eventually eliminates them.