Rotational atherectomy

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Rotablator burr

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Rotablation is used as a debulking device. It is generally not used as a stand alone device, and is generally used to facilitate greater lumen expansion via improving vessel compliance prior to stent placement. The procedure can be done in coronary arteries and in peripheral arteries.

Coronary Rotational Atherectomy

The device used in the coronary artery is called the Rotablator® Device. There are other devices as part of the system including the Rotablator® RotaLink® Advancer, RotaLink® Catheters, the RotaLink® Plus Pre-Connected Exchangeable System, RotaWire® Guide Wires and Rotaglide™ System Lubricant.


  1. The target lesion is in a native vessel, not a saphenous vein graft.
  2. The target lesion is deemed to be undilatable by a balloon due to calcification or fibrosis.
  3. The target lesion is an ostial lesion.
  4. The target lesion is located at a bifurcation and debulking is required to reduced the risk of plaque shift.
  5. The target lesion could not be crossed with the primary device.


Contraindications to the coronary rotational atherectomy include:[1][2]

  1. Severe left ventricular dysfunction (ejection fraction < 30%)
  2. Shock or hypotension
  3. The target lesion is the sole remaining conduit
  4. The presence of dissection. The patient should be managed conservatively for approximately four weeks to permit the dissection to heal before treating the lesion with the Rotablator system.
  5. Lesion angulation in excess of 45º
  6. Occlusions through which a guide wire will not pass
  7. Saphenous vein graft lesions
  8. Angiographic evidence of thrombus
  9. Unavailability of bypass surgery
  10. Severe 3-vessel or unprotected left main disease
  11. Lesion length in excess of 25 mm

Strategies to reduce no reflow during the procedure

  1. Liberal administration of calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem (200 micrograms administered via the intracoronary route)
  2. Multiple short runs of rotablation
  3. A slower initial speed of rotablation such as 140,000 to 160,000 rotations per minute (RPM)
  4. Minimal deceleration during the bur runs
  5. Allowing a period of recovery between bur runs
  6. Avoid over-sizing the bur to minimize downstream embolization
  7. Liberal use of a "Rotablator flush":


The comparative efficacy of rotational atherectomy has been compared in the following studies / trials:

The ERBAC Trial

ERBAC was a single center trial in which patients with complex lesion were randomized to either balloon angioplasty (n=222), excimer laser angioplasty (n=232), or rotational atherectomy (n=231). [3] The primary end point (procedural success defined as diameter stenosis <50%, absence of death, Q-wave myocardial infarction, or coronary artery bypass surgery) was higher among rotablation (89%) versus laser (77%) versus balloon angioplasty patients (80%, P=.0019). There was no difference in major in-hospital complications (3.2% versus 4.3% versus 3.1%, P=.71). Despite improved acute procedural outcomes, 6-month target lesion revascularization was more frequent in the rotational atherectomy group (42.4%) and the excimer laser group (46.0%) versus the angioplasty group (31.9%, P=.013). [3]

The SPORT Trial

This trial Randomized 735 patients to bare metal stenting with or without prior rotational atherectomy. There were better acute procedural results among patients pre-treated with rotational atherectomy. There was no difference in TLR rates in follow-up[4]

Complications of Coronary Rotational Atherectomy

Complications related to the use of coronary rotational atherectomy include major adverse cardiac events common to PCI such as stroke, myocardial infarction, and death as well as angiographic complications such as coronary artery spasm, perforation, coronary slow flow or no reflow phenomenon, transient vessel occlusion, and dissection.[1] Burr entrapment is a rare and serious complication and often requires surgical or other bailout method for burr removal.

Coronary Slow flow/No Reflow During Rotational Atherectomy

Several mechanisms are implicated in the development of no reflow phenomenon during coronary rotational atherectomy. Strategies to minimize the risks are as follows:[1]

  • Atherosclerotic debris and/or microthrombi embolism
  • Smaller burr sizing
A small burr size (burr-to-artery ratio <0.7) is associated with reduced angiographic complications and periprocedural CK-MB release[5][6]
  • Intermittent ablation with short runs of 15 to 20 seconds
  • Avoidance of decelerations >5000 rpm
  • Platelet activation and aggregation
  • Microcirculatory vasospasm
  • Vasodilators
  • Liberal use of flush solution

2011 ACCF/AHA/SCAI Guidelines for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (DO NOT EDIT)[8]

Coronary Atherectomy (DO NOT EDIT)[8]

Class III (No Benefit)
"1. Rotational atherectomy should not be performed routinely for de-novo lesions or in-stent restenosis.[9][10][3][11] (Level of Evidence: A)"
Class IIa
"1. Rotational atherectomy is reasonable for fibrotic or heavily calcified lesions that might not be crossed by a balloon catheter or adequately dilated before stent implantation.[12][13] (Level of Evidence: C)"


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Tomey, MI.; Kini, AS.; Sharma, SK. (2014). "Current Status of Rotational Atherectomy". JACC Cardiovasc Interv. 7 (4): 345–353. doi:10.1016/j.jcin.2013.12.196. PMID 24630879. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Reifart N, Vandormael M, Krajcar M; et al. (1997). "Randomized comparison of angioplasty of complex coronary lesions at a single center. Excimer Laser, Rotational Atherectomy, and Balloon Angioplasty Comparison (ERBAC) Study". Circulation. 96 (1): 91–8. PMID 9236422. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  4. Buchbinder M, et al. Circ 2000:II-663
  5. Whitlow, PL.; Bass, TA.; Kipperman, RM.; Sharaf, BL.; Ho, KK.; Cutlip, DE.; Zhang, Y.; Kuntz, RE.; Williams, DO. (2001). "Results of the study to determine rotablator and transluminal angioplasty strategy (STRATAS)". Am J Cardiol. 87 (6): 699–705. PMID 11249886. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  6. Safian, RD.; Feldman, T.; Muller, DW.; Mason, D.; Schreiber, T.; Haik, B.; Mooney, M.; O'Neill, WW. (2001). "Coronary angioplasty and Rotablator atherectomy trial (CARAT): immediate and late results of a prospective multicenter randomized trial". Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 53 (2): 213–20. doi:10.1002/ccd.1151. PMID 11387607. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  7. Kini, A.; Reich, D.; Marmur, JD.; Mitre, CA.; Sharma, SK. (2001). "Reduction in periprocedural enzyme elevation by abciximab after rotational atherectomy of type B2 lesions: Results of the Rota ReoPro randomized trial". Am Heart J. 142 (6): 965–9. doi:10.1067/mhj.2001.119382. PMID 11717598. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Levine GN, Bates ER, Blankenship JC, Bailey SR, Bittl JA, Cercek B, Chambers CE, Ellis SG, Guyton RA, Hollenberg SM, Khot UN, Lange RA, Mauri L, Mehran R, Moussa ID, Mukherjee D, Nallamothu BK, Ting HH (2011). "2011 ACCF/AHA/SCAI Guideline for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention: Executive Summary A Report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions" (PDF). Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 58 (24): 2550–83. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2011.08.006. PMID 22070837. Retrieved 2011-12-08. Text "PDF" ignored (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  9. Bittl JA, Chew DP, Topol EJ, Kong DF, Califf RM (2004). "Meta-analysis of randomized trials of percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty versus atherectomy, cutting balloon atherotomy, or laser angioplasty". Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 43 (6): 936–42. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2003.10.039. PMID 15028347. Retrieved 2011-12-10. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  10. Mauri L, Reisman M, Buchbinder M, Popma JJ, Sharma SK, Cutlip DE, Ho KK, Prpic R, Zimetbaum PJ, Kuntz RE (2003). "Comparison of rotational atherectomy with conventional balloon angioplasty in the prevention of restenosis of small coronary arteries: results of the Dilatation vs Ablation Revascularization Trial Targeting Restenosis (DART)". American Heart Journal. 145 (5): 847–54. doi:10.1016/S0002-8703(03)00080-2. PMID 12766743. Retrieved 2011-12-10. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  11. vom Dahl J, Dietz U, Haager PK, Silber S, Niccoli L, Buettner HJ, Schiele F, Thomas M, Commeau P, Ramsdale DR, Garcia E, Hamm CW, Hoffmann R, Reineke T, Klues HG (2002). "Rotational atherectomy does not reduce recurrent in-stent restenosis: results of the angioplasty versus rotational atherectomy for treatment of diffuse in-stent restenosis trial (ARTIST)". Circulation. 105 (5): 583–8. PMID 11827923. Retrieved 2011-12-10. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  12. Moussa I, Di Mario C, Moses J, Reimers B, Di Francesco L, Martini G, Tobis J, Colombo A (1997). "Coronary stenting after rotational atherectomy in calcified and complex lesions. Angiographic and clinical follow-up results". Circulation. 96 (1): 128–36. PMID 9236427. Retrieved 2011-12-10. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  13. Vaquerizo B, Serra A, Miranda F, Triano JL, Sierra G, Delgado G, Puentes A, Mojal S, Brugera J (2010). "Aggressive plaque modification with rotational atherectomy and/or cutting balloon before drug-eluting stent implantation for the treatment of calcified coronary lesions". Journal of Interventional Cardiology. 23 (3): 240–8. doi:10.1111/j.1540-8183.2010.00547.x. PMID 20636844. Retrieved 2011-12-10. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)

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