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Intracoronary Radiation to Open Blocked Arteries

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NEW HYDE PARK, NY – Cardiologists at LIJ Medical Center have reintroduced radiation therapy to treat coronary arteries that have reclogged due to scar-tissue growth after angioplasty – a procedure used to clear blocked arteries in the heart and increase blood flow.

The radiation treatment, known as intravascular brachytherapy, delivers a specific dose of radioactive “seeds” through a thin tube, or catheter, through the patient’s artery, either in the thigh or wrist, to reach the heart. The radiation seeds are exposed to the stent where the scar tissue has formed for three to five minutes and then are removed. Radiation decreases the probability of scar tissue developing again.

In the last three decades, interventional cardiology techniques have undergone dramatic changes since the first balloon angioplasty was performed in 1977 to prop open clogged arteries. After this breakthrough, physicians used a procedure to deploy a tiny bare metal stent that was inserted in to the newly-opened area of the artery to help it from narrowing or reclosing. In 2003, drug- eluting stents were introduced that released medication with in the blood vessel to inhibit the over growth of tissue that can occur with in the stent, potentially reducing additional heart procedures.

“Despite all the advances in interventional cardiology, there are still approximately 5 to 10 percent of patients who were received drug-coated stents that experience restenosis, or narrowing of the treated vessel,” said Rajiv Jauhar, MD, director of the cardiac catheterization lab at LIJ. “Treatment for these patients remains a challenge because restenting the area would leave a ‘sandwich’ of stents in the coronary artery and is often not effective. Intravascular brachytherapy shows significant promise in helping patients with restenosis.”

Intravascular brachytherapy was the only treatment approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat restenosis before drug-eluting stents were invented. According to Dr. Jauhar, clinical data has shown that brachytherapy is a safer alternative to repeat stents with significantly lower rates of major adverse cardiovascular events such as a heart attack.

Raymond Chute, a 61-year-old retired New York State transportation highway foreman of Greenport, NY, was among the first patients at LIJ to receive brachytherapy to treat his heart disease.

In 2004, Mr. Chute suffered a heart attack and had triple coronary artery bypass graft surgery to restore blood flow to his arteries. Over the last several years, Mr. Chute needed multiple cardiac stents to manage his condition; however, he was prone to restenosis of the artery where the stent was implanted.

“I got to the point that every six to eight weeks I would feel a burning sensation up to my throat and I knew I would be back in the hospital – I could set my clock by it,” said Mr. Chute, adding, “I was out of breath just putting on my shoes.”

Mr. Chute was referred by his cardiologist for brachytherapy at LIJ, one of a handful of facilities on the East Coast to offer the procedure.

Barry Kaplan, MD, vice chairman of cardiology at LIJ and North Shore University Hospital, with expertise from Louis Potters, MD, and Rajiv Sharma, MD, of the hospital’s Department of Radiation Medicine, performed the brachytherapy procedure on Mr. Chute earlier this summer. “Mr. Chute presented with chest pain, and with his history of restenosis, brachytherapy was his best option for treatment.”

Two months after the treatment, Mr. Chute said he is feeling “very good.”
“I can take a walk with my wife to the beach in the evening and watch the sunset.”

Mr. Chute and his wife traveled at the end of August to visit their son and grandchildren in Iowa. “I’m deeply grateful this procedure works. I’m past the point of worrying that my symptoms will come back.”

For more information about Intravascular Brachytherapy at LIJ, please call: 718-470-4350.

Media Contact: Betty Olt


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