New ultrasound shock wave procedure used to mend an ailing heart

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a group of people posing for the camera: Interventional cardiologists Dr Jean-Paul Theron, Dr Chris Zambakides and Suzanne Wallace, director: medical education and scientific communication at ShockWave Medical. Photo: Netcare
© Provided by Independent Media Interventional cardiologists Dr Jean-Paul Theron, Dr Chris Zambakides and Suzanne Wallace, director: medical education and scientific communication at ShockWave Medical. Photo: Netcare

Cape Town – A cutting-edge procedure using ultrasound shock waves to “crack” highly calcified deposits and blockages within coronary arteries was successfully performed for the first time in Africa at the Netcare Union Hospital in Alberton.

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The ShockWave intravascular lithotripsy (IVL) procedure was performed on a 79-year-old Gauteng man recently, who had severe coronary artery disease and had previously suffered a heart attack.

Interventional cardiologists, Dr Chris Zambakides and Dr Jean-Paul Theron, in Netcare’s cardiovascular centre catheterisation laboratory led the procedure.

The new procedure enabled the experts to successfully clear a way through the patient’s severely calcified and blocked coronary arteries, so that these could be successfully supported with stents used to support and treat diseased and narrowed arteries.

Zambakides said: “The team is most impressed with the results we were able to achieve with the new procedure. The IVL system will enable us to tackle even the most challenging of calcified coronary arteries, and reduces the risks associated with traditional coronary angioplasty and stenting in highly compromised cardiovascular disease patients.

“The patient was immensely pleased with the results of the procedure, which took 90 minutes to complete, and says that he almost immediately felt relief from the severe chest pains, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms he was experiencing,” said Zambakides.

He explained that severely calcified and diseased coronary arteries can make coronary interventions such as traditional angioplasty and stenting considerably more difficult and significantly complicates the procedure.

“Acutely it may be associated with stent under-expansion and in-stent restenosis, which is when a blocked artery that was opened up with angioplasty and stent becomes narrowed again. In this case, the patient had occlusions, or blockages, of between 70% and 90% in various coronary arteries.”

Zambakides said because of the patient’s age and additional medical conditions, surgery was not a viable option.

“The IVL system involves the use of a special integrated balloon with electrodes attached that produce localised sonic pressure waves to ‘hammer’ at the calcium on the arterial wall, and breaks it up. 

“After this, the IVL system’s integrated balloon is expanded, making placement of the stents considerably easier and safer in these patients,” Zambakides said.

What happens to your body when you’re having a heart attack (Provided by Best Life)

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