What is an atherectomy?

Have you ever heard of an atherectomy?  An atherectomy is used to treat narrowing in arteries caused by peripheral artery disease.  What happens is you get fatty streaks built up in the artery and they clog up.  So, in an angioplasty (which my grandmother had about 20 years ago), a balloon is inflated and passed though the blocked artery and the plaque is pushed into the sides, widening the pathway for better blood flow.  With an atherectomy the plaque is actually removed rather than pushed aside.  There are different methods for this (shown below), but the end result is the same.

This is some pretty amazing stuff but how does this relate to CrossWind Machining?  CrossWind machines components for the rotational version of the atherectomy which is where a special burr or drill on the tip of a catheter rotates to shave the plaque into tiny pieces.  Sometimes, sitting here at my desk, I forget how amazing the technology is that we work with.  I literally hold pieces in my hand (about 500 pcs at a time because they are so tiny) that will go into someone’s artery to greatly impact their quality of life.
It wasn’t until I started this blog that I really started to explore how the components we manufacture are actually utilized.  It’s honestly made me more excited about CrossWind than I already was.  I will most likely never know anyone who has specifically had one of our components assembled into the finished product used in their particular surgery (except for my best friend, you can read that in my 1st blog post), but it’s good to know that the meticulous-ness is for a very good cause.

Check out this video of a directional atherectomy performed using Boston Scientific’s Jetstream System! 


I hope I never have to need one of our products, personally. But if I do, I’m sure glad they’re there!


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