City hospital uses novel technique to clear blockage in 67-year-old man's artery

Simran Kashyap

New Delhi, Jan 13: A team of doctors at a hospital here has performed a procedure to open a severely blocked artery of a 67-year-old patient who recently suffered a heart attack, using a "novel technique" called coronary shockwave lithotripsy, officials said on Sunday.

The hospital claimed that the procedure conducted on the patient on Saturday was the country's "first" such operation.

"The patient had 90 per cent blocked artery which could not be opened by the standard technique of balloon angioplasty.

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At extremely high pressures with balloon bursting it became impossible to open the blockage," Fortis Escorts Heart Institute (FEHI) said in a statement on Sunday.

A shockwave balloon was inserted inside the artery and sonic pulses were delivered to break the calcium in the blockage. After that, the blockage opened easily at even low pressures with subsequent stent implantation and a successful procedure, it said.

A team of doctors led by FEHI chairman Dr Ashok Seth performed "India's first coronary shockwave lithotripsy to open a severely blocked artery of the 67-year-old patient who recently had a heart attack", the hospital claimed.

The "novel procedure" brings hope for those suffering from an advanced form of coronary artery disease (CAD), having angina or heart attack in which the blockage becomes very hard due to deposit of calcium, doctors said. Blockage becoming very hard due to deposit of calcium happens in 20-25 per cent of the patients, especially those who are old, diabetic, have chronic kidney disease, long-standing blockages or those who have undergone bypass surgery previously, they said.

Shockwave coronary lithotripsy is a "major advancement" over the previous techniques used for such hard blockages, such as ultra-high pressure balloons or rotatory drills which are difficult to use and carry the risk of rupturing the artery, the hospital authorities said.

"Hardened calcified blockages are a big challenge to treat using angioplasty and stents and is getting much more common. Such blockages can now be opened with ease and safety, to give patients the best results for a long time.

"The sonic pressure waves produced when performing intravascular lithotripsy give us a novel, safe and proven treatment option to break up the calcified plaque, with potentially less risk of injury to the heart artery and a safer option for the patient when compared to other treatments," Dr Seth said.

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