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What is an Arteriotomy?

By Dulce Corazon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An arteriotomy, also known as arterotomy, refers to the surgical procedure performed to create a hole or an opening in the wall of an artery. An artery is a type of blood vessel which carries oxygenated blood to the heart and to other parts of the body. Arteriotomy is usually performed to place a connection between an artery and another artery to restore blood flow. It also may be performed to widen the area inside an artery in order to remove a blockage.

Cardiovascular surgeons, medical doctors who underwent training in performing operations related to the heart and blood vessels, are usually the ones performing arteriotomy procedures. Some surgical procedures which employ arteriotomy include cardiac bypass surgery, coronary balloon angioplasty and cardiac catheterization. Blood clots, which lodge in blood vessels, may also require an arteriotomy for removal.

A cardiac bypass is a procedure usually done to restore blood flow to the heart. Blockage of blood flow is often caused by the presence of a blood clot lodging on the coronary artery, the artery supplying oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscles. Limited or absent oxygen or nutrients in the heart usually results in chest pain and, more severely, in a heart attack. The surgeon usually removes a vein in a patient's legs, often the saphenous vein, to create a new passage of blood to the affected heart muscles. In a cardiac bypass itself, there may be multiple arteriotomies created, often depending on how many blood vessels were blocked.

Coronary balloon angioplasty is a procedure frequently performed to widen the space inside the coronary arteries. Arteries usually become narrow due to the presence of plaques, which are fatty materials adhering to the arterial walls. After an arteriotomy, a catheter is often inserted into an artery located at the groin area or in the arms until it reaches the section of the coronary artery to be treated. The balloon is then inflated, making the narrow arterial wall wider and at the same time compressing the plaque to the walls.

Cardiac catheterization is another procedure utilizing an arteriotomy. It is usually done by inserting a catheter into an artery in the groin or in the arms until it reaches the heart. Surgeons can then measure concentrations of oxygen in the heart, get heart tissue samples to be examined in the laboratory, or do a fluoroscopy X-ray to get real-time photos of the heart.

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Discussion Comments
By ceilingcat — On Oct 25, 2011

@SZapper - Well, keep in mind that surgeons have surgical training. I imagine (of course I don’t know for sure) that you do not! So I hope any surgeons that do this kind of operation feel comfortable with it!

I'm always amazed at all the crazy operations they can do with the heart and the veins. I think the most amazing one is when they remove the vein from your leg and put it near the heart. That to me is crazy! It's amazing they can do that, and it's amazing that your system works OK without the vein being in your leg where it's supposed to be.

By SZapper — On Oct 24, 2011

I had no idea you could operate using an arteriotomy to remove a blood clot. For some reason I've always been under the impression that if you develop a blood clot, doctors just put you on blood thinners and hope for the best. I'm glad to hear that this isn't the case.

I can't imagine what it would be like to operate on someone this way. I mean, you're cutting into someones artery and hopefully taking out a blood clot. I feel like that would be a lot of pressure!

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