Tyler (December 7, 2022) — UT Health East Texas Heart and Vascular Institute announced a new treatment option for patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease living in East Texas. The new technology is a novel application of lithotripsy, an approach that uses sonic pressure waves to safely break up kidney stones. It’s now available to treat problematic calcium in the coronary arteries that can reduce blood flow in the heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease. As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which can narrow the artery. Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately one million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30 percent have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events.
Calcium makes the artery rigid and more difficult to reopen with conventional treatments, including balloons, which attempt to crack the calcium when inflated to high pressure, and atherectomy, which drills through the calcium to open the artery. While atherectomy has been available for several decades, its use remains low, as it can result in complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures. The new shockwave technology, also known as intravascular lithotripsy or IVL, allows physicians to fracture the problematic calcium — using sonic pressure waves — so that the artery can be safely expanded, and blood flow is restored with the placement of a stent and without unnecessary complications.
“The cardiology team at UT Health Tyler is steadfast in our commitment to give our patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Dr. Robert W. Smith, who conducted the first IVL procedure at UT Health Tyler. “It is exciting to be starting a new chapter in the treatment of heart disease in some of our most complex patient cases after using the same tools for the last 30 years – especially one that improves the safety of the procedure for the benefit of the East Texas community.”
The Heart and Vascular Institute is a partnership between UT Health East Texas and Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants.
About UT Health East Texas
UT Health East Texas provides care to thousands of patients each year through an extensive regional network that includes 10 hospitals, more than 50 clinics, the Olympic Plaza Tower, 13 regional rehabilitation facilities, two freestanding emergency centers, regional home health services covering 41 counties, an EMS fleet of more than 50 ambulances and four helicopters, and a comprehensive seven-trauma center care network, including the region’s only Level 1 trauma facility.
As a partner with The University of Texas System, UT Health East Texas is uniquely positioned to provide patients with access to leading-edge research and clinical therapies while training and educating the next generation of physicians and other health professionals. The nationally recognized UT System also includes The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, as well as three other major university medical centers located throughout the state.