Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New treatment offers options for heart patients

CoxHealth is the first health system in the region to offer alternative to open heart surgery

Until recently, patients with severely clogged arteries known as chronic total occlusions (CTO) had few treatment options. Traditional minimally invasive angioplasty is unsuccessful for patients with this condition, leaving bypass surgery – and its risks and lengthy recovery time – as their main course of action.

Thanks to CoxHealth, local patients with this condition now have a minimally invasive option. Physicians are using the Crossboss and Stingray Coronary CTO Crossing and Re-entry system to attack these blockages from behind, through smaller arteries, so they can maneuver past the blockage and restore blood flow.

“Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S.,” said Becky Watts, administrative director of CoxHealth Cardiovascular Services. “Opening partially blocked arteries through angioplasty, using a small balloon and a stent, has been the traditional treatment. But with CTO patients, angioplasty isn’t an option. With all our tools and technology, these blockages were so complete that we simply couldn’t get through.”

That left invasive bypass surgery, where a blood vessel is grafted to direct blood flow around the blockage, as the treatment of choice. Bypass surgery is risky, and recovery can take months. With this new procedure using the Crossboss and Stingray system, patients get the benefits of a minimally invasive procedure, and can be out of the hospital and enjoying some of their favorite activities in just a few days.

“More than 30 percent of patients referred for angioplasty have at least one CTO. This procedure allows us to give them the best, cutting-edge care,” said Watts.

CoxHealth began offering the treatment in June 2013.