Percutaneous transluminal rotational atherectomy for coronary artery disease

Atherosclerosis is the build-up of fat and other substances within blood vessels. Several methods are used to remove this build-up including a procedure known as percutaneous transluminalcoronary rotational atherectomy (PTCRA). PTCRA utilises small rotating devices to selectively remove the build-up of atherosclerotic plaques from within coronary vessels. This review sought to determine whether PTCRA leads to improved patient outcomes compared to balloon angioplasty. It was important to do this review as it is not known whether or not PTCRA provides greater benefits to patients compared to balloon angioplasty.  The review analysed data from 12 studies, which showed that there is limited evidence to support the routine use of PTCRA for in-stent re-stenosis; however, only for those people who were not suitable for surgery. For those with complex lesions, PTCRA may provide some benefit in comparison to balloon angioplasty. The review also showed that patients receiving PTCRA were more likely to have perforations during the procedure compared to patients receiving balloon angioplasty. This review was limited by the small number of studies and deficiency of data reported in some of the studies. 

Authors' conclusions: 

When conventional PTCA is feasible, PTCRA appears to confer no additional benefits. There is limited published evidence and no long-term data to support the routine use of PTCRA in in-stent re-stenosis. Compared to angioplasty alone, PTCRA/PTCA did not result in a higher incidence of major adverse cardiac events, but patients were more likely to experience vascular spasm, perforation and transient vessel occlusion. In certain circumstances (e.g. patients ineligible for cardiac surgery, those with architecturally complex lesions, or those with lesions that fail PTCA), PTCRA may achieve satisfactory re-vascularisation in subsequent procedures.

Read the full abstract...

This is an update of the review on 'Percutaneous transluminal rotational atherectomy for coronary artery disease' first published in The Cochrane Library Issue 4, 2003. Percutaneous transluminal coronary rotational atherectomy (PTCRA) debulks atherosclerotic plaque from coronary arteries using an abrasive burr. On rotation, the burr selectively removes hard tissue. PTCRA has been used both as an alternative to and in conjunction with balloon angioplasty to open up blocked coronary arteries. Its ongoing effectiveness and safety compared with other modes of removing atherosclerotic plaques is reviewed. 


To assess the effects of PTCRA for coronary artery disease in patients with non-complex and complex lesions (e.g. ostial, long or diffuse lesions or those arising from in-stent re-stenosis) of the coronary arteries.

Search strategy: 

For the original review, we searched the Heart Group Specialised Register; The Cochrane Library to Issue 2, 2001; and MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE and Current Contents to December 2002 and reviewed reference lists for relevant articles. For the current review, we searched the same registries from 2002 to 2012 and reviewed reference lists for relevant articles. 

Selection criteria: 

We included randomised and quasi-randomised controlled trials of PTCRA compared with placebo, no treatment or another intervention and excluded cross-over trials.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of the studies identified. Data were extracted independently by two review authors. We asked authors of trials to provide information when missing data were encountered. Statistical summaries used risk ratios (RR) and weighted mean differences.

Main results: 

We included 12 trials enrolling 3474 patients. The overall risk of bias was unclear for the majority of articles due to a lack of reported data; however, the authors determined that this would be unlikely to impact negatively as most data outcomes were objective (e.g. death vs. no death). There was no evidence of the effectiveness in improving patient outcomes of PTCRA in non-complex lesions. In complex lesions, there were no statistically significant differences in re-stenosis rates at six months (RR 1.05; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.83 to 1.33) and at one year (RR 1.21; 95% CI 0.95 to 1.55) in those receiving PTCRA with adjunctive balloon angioplasty (PTCA) (PTCRA/PTCA) compared to those receiving PTCA alone. Morphological characteristics distinguishing complex lesions have not been examined in parallel-arm randomised controlled trials. The evidence for the effectiveness of PTCRA in in-stent re-stenosis is unclear

Compared to angioplasty alone, PTCRA/PTCA did not result in a statistically significant increase in the risk of major adverse cardiac events (myocardial infarction (MI), emergency cardiac surgery or death) during the in-hospital period (RR 1.27; 95% CI 0.86 to 1.90). Compared to angioplasty, PTCRA was associated with nine times the risk of an angiographically detectable vascular spasm (RR 9.23; 95% CI 4.61 to 18.47), four times the risk of perforation (RR 4.28; 95% CI 0.92 to 19.83) and about twice the risk of transient vessel occlusions (RR 2.49; 95% CI 1.25 to 4.99) while angiographic dissections (RR 0.48; 95% CI 0.34 to 0.68) and stents used as a bailout procedure (RR 0.29; 95% CI 0.09 to 0.87) were less common.