Artery Reclosure and Atherectomy
Several procedures involving work on the arteries carry a risk of artery closure, and atherectomy is one of these procedures. While this is a common occurrence, if the tear doesn't heal itself or becomes larger, serious complications can result. For people who experience artery closure and atherectomy is the cause, the procedure may need to be repeated or an emergency bypass surgery may need to be performed.
During an atherectomy, an injury, such as a tear inside your artery, may occur as the procedure is carried out. This is a common occurrence following atherectomy, and most of these tears heal by themselves. However, if the tear progresses and becomes quite large, it can actually block the flow of blood through the artery. This is called an "abrupt closure of the artery," and it usually occurs within minutes of the procedure starting. You will likely experience severe chest pain if this occurs.
About one-half of abrupt closures can be reversed by simply performing a balloon dilation (angioplasty). A stent may also be placed to help keep the artery open. If it is not possible to safely open the artery by balloon dilation, emergency coronary bypass surgery may be necessary. Because the bypass surgery is done only in emergencies, the risks, including death, are higher than with a regularly scheduled bypass surgery.
Abrupt closure can also occur due to the formation of clots at the site of the atherectomy. If this is the case, treatment can include balloon dilation and blood-thinning medication.