DETROIT – An alternative procedure to heart bypass surgery that can significantly shorten hospital stays, recovery time and pain for patients is currently being offered by Henry Ford Hospital.
Heart bypass surgery is the most commonly performed open heart operation in the United States, according to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
Henry Ford Hospital is now the only medical center in Michigan and the upper Midwest currently using catheters and tiny wires to successfully drill through 100% blockages. The procedure avoids open heart surgery, relieves chest pain and improves cardiac function.
“As recent as a few years ago, these patients had very few options,” says cardiologist Khaldoon Alaswad, M.D., the new director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute. “Now, it’s very gratifying for the whole team at Henry Ford to see patients’ lives improve so dramatically after the procedure.”
Dr. Alaswad, who decided early in his career to focus on the lifesaving technique, is one of a few cardiologists in the United States and the world who perform this procedure. He has seen numerous patients dealing with painful angina or the after-effects of open heart bypass surgery. Many were told surgery was their only option, with plaque build-up creating 100% blockage in their arteries.
Instead, this minimally invasive procedure – Chronic Total Occlusion Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, or CTO PCI – is done through small catheters inserted into the heart through the patient’s arm, upper thigh or another area. Dr. Alaswad uses tiny wires to dig through or go around the blockage and insert a tiny metal stent. Patients leave the hospital in as little as a day, avoiding the weeks-long recovery after open heart surgery.
The procedure differs from simple angioplasty on a narrowed coronary artery, which uses a balloon to widen the passageway. Opening a totally blocked artery requires drilling through the blockage then proceeding with angioplasty.
The main reason many hospitals shy away from the delicate CTO PCI procedure is the success rate. The typical success rate for the procedure involving 100% arterial blockage is 60% to 70%. Henry Ford Hospital is the only medical center in the Upper Midwest and in Michigan currently offering the procedure with a more than 90% success rate.
“The Henry Ford Heart & Vascular Institute policy of offering cutting-edge technologies and keeping renowned experts on staff provides improved medical care in our local and surrounding communities,” says Dr. Alaswad. “That approach will position us as a hub for specialized medical services now and into the future.”