New technique opens up totally blocked arteries

January 11th, 2009 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 11 (IANS) A highly precise technique has been used with complete success for the first time to open up totally blocked arteries.Interventional cardiologist Frank Zidar used the new tool at the Austin Heart Hospital last week on a patient with severe peripheral artery disease (PAD) - a 100 percent blockage in a main artery in his leg.

Otherwise, the patient would have continued to experience chronic, severe pain in his leg due to poor circulation, according to experts.

“Traditional treatment for blocked arteries uses manual guidewires to travel through the artery to the area of blockage in the leg. This can be extremely challenging because these guidewires are very difficult to manoeuvre,” Zidar said.

“This new magnetic guidewire technology allows for greater control and improved accuracy,” he said.

“Once the blockage is reached, the tip of the guidewire can burn or ablate a tiny passage through the blockage, allowing us then to use existing techniques to open up the blockage further.

“This revolutionary technology is likely to reduce procedure times and therefore reduce the amount of contrast dye and imaging radiation to the patient,” he added.

PAD affects eight to 12 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association.

If left untreated, patients can experience ulcerations and gangrene that significantly increase their risk of losing a limb or even result in death.

The novel technique, known as Stereotaxis RF PowerAssert(TM) Magnetic Guidewire, was approved by the FDA in August 2008. It is the only magnetically enabled device available for crossing completely blocked arteries, according to an Austin release.

Austin Heart Hospital was chosen as one of only two clinical sites in the world to study its efficacy.

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