FOR HEART DISEASE
Over 700,000 people undergo coronary balloon angioplasty each year in the United States, and many of these patients require placement of a stent within the narrowed coronary artery to maintain proper blood flow. Unfortunately, more than 25% of these patients will develop re-growth of their coronary plaque, known as restenosis, and with it a recurrence of their symptoms. The problem of restenosis is a major challenge to cardiologists.
Of the many therapies that have been designed to reduce the occurrence of restenosis, intravascular brachytherapy has shown great promise in combating this problem. Several studies now support the use of radiation to inhibit cell proliferation and vascular remodeling, each a cause of restenosis.
Intravascular brachytherapy is given immediately after balloon angioplasty is performed, right in the cardiac cath lab. Using the same access catheter used by the cardiologist, a radiation catheter containing a row of tiny radioactive pellets is inserted into the coronary artery. This catheter is positioned over the same area where angioplasty and stent placement was performed. These pellets then give off a high dose of radiation, precisely localized to the target portion of the treated coronary artery. Treatment takes 15 – 20 minutes, and is completely painless. No increased risks over that of angioplasty are seen. This radiation treatment decreases the risk of restenosis to one-third the risk without radiation.