Laser Atherectomy

A laser atherectomy removes fatty buildup (plaque) from the arteries with a high energy light (laser). By removing the blockage, blood can flow more freely. You may need this procedure to treat critical limb ischemia (severe blockage in the arteries of your legs), also called CLI.

How to Prepare for a Laser Atherectomy

To prepare for a laser atherectomy, you should:

  • Arrange blood tests and imaging tests before the procedure
  • Ask your doctor about stopping medications if necessary
  • Avoid eating and drinking eight hours before your laser atherectomy
  • Schedule someone to drive you home after the procedure

What to Expect During a Laser Atherectomy

A laser atherectomy usually takes one to two hours. You may be able to have it as an outpatient procedure (same-day surgery). 

First, you will receive an intravenous (IV) line in your arm for fluids and medicines. Next, you will receive a sedative or local anesthesia (medicine to help you relax and not feel pain) through the IV. You will be awake during the procedure.

Once the medicine is working, we make a small cut to reach the blockage. A doctor will then insert a long, thin tube (catheter) with a laser into your artery. The light from the laser will destroy the plaque buildup, allowing blood to flow. After this, the doctor removes the catheter and laser from your artery. We use stitches and a bandage to cover the cut, and then move you to a recovery room.    

What Happens After a Laser Atherectomy

After your surgery, our team will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure. Depending on your results, you may be able to go home the same day. Once your doctor releases you, you can have someone drive you home. Follow your doctor's instructions for returning to normal activities.