Konstantinos Katsanos, Stavros Spiliopoulos, Lazaros Reppas, Dimitris Karnabatidis
Traditional percutaneous balloon angioplasty and stent placement is based on mechanical plaque disruption and displacement within the arterial wall. On the contrary, transcatheter atherectomy achieves atherosclerotic plaque clearance by means of directional plaque excision or rotational plaque removal or laser plaque ablation. Debulking atherectomy may allow for a more uniform angioplasty result at lower pressures with consequently less vessel barotrauma and improved luminal gain, thereby decreasing the risk of plaque recoil and dissection that may require permanent metal stenting. It has been also argued that atherectomy may disrupt the calcium barrier and optimize drug transfer and delivery in case of drug-coated balloon applications. The authors discuss the various types of atherectomy devices available in clinical practice to date and critically appraise their mode of action as well as relevant published data in each case. Overall, amassed randomized and observational evidence indicates that percutaneous atherectomy of the femoropopliteal and infrapopliteal arteries may achieve high technical success rates and seems to lessen the frequency of bailout stenting, however, at the expense of increased risk of peri-procedural distal embolization. Long-term clinical outcomes reported to date do not support the superiority of percutaneous atherectomy over traditional balloon angioplasty and stent placement in terms of vessel patency or limb salvage. The combination of debulking atherectomy and drug-coated balloons has shown promise in early studies, especially in the treatment of more complex lesions. Unanswered questions and future perspectives of this continuously evolving endovascular technology as part of a broader treatment algorithm are discussed.
Keywords: Amputation; Atherectomy; Atherosclerosis; Directional; Embolization; Laser; Patency; Plaque excision; Rotational.
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