The purpose of the present study was to use the complementary information of angiography, intravascular ultrasound, and intracoronary angioscopy before and after directional atherectomy to characterize the postatherectomy appearance of vessel wall contours and the mechanism of lumen enlargement. Directional coronary atherectomy aims at debulking rather than dilating a coronary artery lesion. The selective removal of the plaque may potentially minimize the vessel wall damage and lead to subsequent better late outcome. Whether plaque removal is the main mechanism of action has only to be assessed indirectly by angiography and warrants further investigation with detailed analysis of luminal changes and vessel wall damage by ultrasound and direct visualization with angioscopy. Twenty-six patients have been investigated by quantitative angiography, intravascular ultrasound, and intracoronary angioscopy (n = 19) before and after atherectomy. In addition, all retrieved specimens were microscopically examined. Ultrasound imaging showed an increase in lumen area from 1.95 ± 0.70 mm2 to 7.86 ± 2.16 mm2 at atherectomy. The achieved gain mainly resulted from plaque removal because plaque plus media area decreased from 18.16 ± 4.47 mm2 to 13.13 ± 3.10 mm2. Vessel wall stretching (i.e., change in external elastic lamina area) accounted for only 15% of lumen area gain. Luminal gain was higher in noncalcified (6.52 ± 2.12 mm2) lesions than in lesions containing deeply located calcium (5.19 ± 0.99 mm2) and lowest in superficially calcified lesions (5.41 ± 2.41 mm2). Ultrasound imaging identified an atherectomy byte in 85% of the cases, whereas angioscopy revealed such a crevice in 74%. The complementary use of the three techniques revealed an underestimation of the presence of dissection/tear and new thrombus by angiography (10% and 4%) and ultrasound imaging (12% and 0%) compared with angioscopy (26% and 21%). The combined use of angiography, ultrasound, and angioscopy reveals that the postatherectomy luminal lining is not as regular and smooth as that seen by angiography. Luminal enlargement with atherectomy is achieved by plaque excision rather than arterial expansion.