First-of-Its-Kind Treatment Option for Advanced Heart Disease
South Texas Health System Heart now offers intravascular lithotripsy (IVL), a new technology which enables physicians to break up problematic calcium deposits in arteries using sonic pressure waves. Lithotripsy has been used for decades to treat kidney and uteral stones, and now it's available to treat coronary artery calcification.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Each year more than 600,000 people in the U.S. die of the condition, according to the CDC. When people have heart disease, the plaque in their arteries gradually turns into calcium deposits as they get older. This can narrow arteries and can be life-threatening. Stents are often used to open arteries, but having calcium deposits in an artery makes the artery more rigid and can lead to complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures.
How Intravascular Lithotripsy Works
A surgeon makes a small incision in the patient's arm or leg and guides a catheter to the heart. Emitters at the end of the catheter create pressure waves that break up the calcium deposits that are restricting blood flow. This makes it easier to expand the artery and restore blood flow with the placement of a stent and without unnecessary complications.