A heart specialist has brought a new technique to Huntington Hospital from his work elsewhere at Northwell Health.
Dr. Gaurav Rao, the director of interventional cardiology at Huntington, said that he has used the technique, called coronary intravascular lithotripsy, at North Shore University Hospital. It delivers sonic pulses to calcified plaque, breaking up the pieces and makes room for the placement of stents. The shockwave is safer and more effective, Rao said. He said the technique prevents damage to the vessels.
“It’s a new technique, less abrasive. It’s not chipping or drilling anything,” Rao said. “It makes cracks in the calcium. It’s like a karate chop, and sends an acoustic wave through the calcium but doesn’t damage the vessel itself. There’s real world data to back up safety.”
The soft plaque that builds up can cause the arteries to narrow over time, impeding blood flow and leading to coronary disease. When the plaque calcifies, the resulting blockages need to be removed. Rao compared the problem to clearing a sink drain. He said that other techniques involve shaving away the blockages, leaving debris behind, and risking a perforation of the artery.
Having the technique available at Huntington Hospital means patients won’t have to sent to other hospitals by ambulance, he said.
Rao has employed the technique 20 to 25 times, he said, including four times at Huntington Hospital.