Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Catheter Extravaganza and Drug Coated Stents

So last week I was in the audience at TCT 2006 - a large interventional cardiology meeting held every year in DC where people in the audience watch live cases from hospitals around the world in an interactive session.

Here we see a case from England being performed by Martin Rothman MD, on the right. Martin is a fine fellow, an avid motorcyclist and inventive, pioneering cardiologist. The audience got to see all this as it happened in England, and also in Italy, Israel, Tokyo and Rio, and a moderator talked with the remote cases and took questions from the panel who you can barely see at the bottom of the image.

An interventional cardiologist is one who intervenes, using a technique where wires and catheters are snaked up from the groin to the heart where there may be blockages in the arteries that feed the heart muscle.

If the arteries get blocked slowly, you become short of breath, gradually lose your strength, and eventually expire. If the artery blocks suddenly, you probably don't have to wait.

Well, the makers of drug coated stents found a way to prop open clogged arteries and keep them open for years without having to crack the chest open, which can be a pain. Instead they use a wire mesh tube that expands and props the artery open, and keeps it open. The drug prevents the artery from growing cells that would block the stent if left alone. The human body tries to heal and cover up foreign objects, like stents, which is what you don't want in this case.

So now 95% of the stents are staying open for a long time. This allows for 1% to clog up in a hurry - a condition caused by an acute coronary thrombosis - we know it as a blood clot. ABC News picked up on this and concluded that drug coated stents are killing people by causing blood clots. This has people scared and it even scares the doctors who put in the stents - negative news is hard to deal with, even if it is wrong.

ABC News failed to mention the other 99% who avoided open surgery and are out and about living their lives. That's not news.

Soundwave Research was there because we develop transducers used for 3VUStm, which is 3rd generation Vascular UltraSound, which is an improvement to IVUS, which we also developed. These transducers are like tiny microphones that travel into the heart and take pictures of blockages, so that the stents can be put into the right places.

This is post number 150

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