Health Discoveries in General Health News

New angioplasty method enters 'back door' of blockages

November 4, 2010
A new angioplasty method has been used successfully on patients whose coronary arteries are so clogged that opening them with conventional balloon angioplasty is nearly impossible.

Dr. John Lopez, director of interventional cardiology research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, has used the technique, which he describes as going through the "back door" of difficult blockages. The procedure, called retrograde recanalization, was developed in Japan.

In balloon angioplasty, a catheter is inserted through an artery in the groin and guided to the front end of the blockage. When the catheter goes through, a balloon on the tip of the catheter is inflated to open the artery and a stent is inserted.

Going through the back end of a hardened blockage, Lopez moved the catheter through "collateral" arteries that are only 0.5 millimeter to 1 millimeter wide and sprouted up when the blocked artery closed up. The procedure requires catheters and tools that can pass through arteries less than 1 millimeter wide.

A clinical trial now under way at the North Shore-LIJ Health System is examining an experimental drug to treat atherosclerosis, which are cholesterol deposits that can cause artery blockages and can lead to stroke or heart attacks.
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