Current status of rotational atherectomy

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Rotational atherectomy facilitates percutaneous coronary intervention for complex de novo lesions with severe calcification. A strategy of routine rotational atherectomy has not, however, conferred reduction in restenosis or major adverse cardiac events. As it is technically demanding, rotational atherectomy is also uncommon. At this 25-year anniversary since the introduction of rotational atherectomy, we sought to review the current state-of-the-art in rotational atherectomy technique, safety, and efficacy data in the modern era of drug-eluting stents, strategies to prevent and manage complications, including slow-flow/no-reflow and burr entrapment, and appropriate use in the context of the broader evolution in the management of stable ischemic heart disease. Fundamental elements of optimal technique include use of a single burr with burr-to-artery ratio of 0.5 to 0.6-rotational speed of 140,000 to 150,000 rpm, gradual burr advancement using a pecking motion, short ablation runs of 15 to 20 s, and avoidance of decelerations >5,000 rpm. Combined with meticulous technique, optimal antiplatelet therapy, vasodilators, flush solution, and provisional use of atropine, temporary pacing, vasopressors, and mechanical support may prevent slow-flow/no-reflow, which in contemporary series is reported in 0.0% to 2.6% of cases. On the basis of the results of recent large clinical trials, a subset of patients with complex coronary artery disease previously assigned to rotational atherectomy may be directed instead to medical therapy alone or bypass surgery. For patients with de novo severely calcified lesions for which rotational atherectomy remains appropriate, referral centers of excellence are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-353
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Interventions
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • calcified lesions
  • complications
  • drug-eluting stents
  • rotational atherectomy


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