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Atherectomy Risks -- Abrupt or Sudden Closure of the Artery

Clip Number: 22 of 38
Presentation: Atherectomy
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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During angioplasty an injury, such as a tear to the inside of your artery, may occur as the balloon expands against the plaque. This is a common occurrence following balloon angioplasty and most 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 usually occurs within minutes of the balloon inflation. You will experience severe chest pain if this occurs.
About one-half of abrupt closures can be reversed by simply performing another balloon dilation. 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 angioplasty. If this is the cause, treatment can include balloon dilation and blood-thinning medication.



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