About 20 per cent of patients with coronary artery disease develop a complete blockage in an artery. Keith Hutchings had two.
The Sherwood Park, Alta. man had chest pain and low energy. An angiogram showed two of his arteries were 100 per cent clogged with plaque.
Dr. Minh Vo explained Hutchings’ body had grown tiny new bypasses for minimal blood flow. To restore it to normal, Vo’s team performed an antegrade dissection re-entry; an alternative to conventional angioplasty.
“It’s like if you have a plugged toilet, most people will try to jam through that area,” the interventional cardiologist said. “What we do is we get into the wall.”
The new technique involves sending a mesh tube inside the artery wall, around the blockage, and back into the centre of the artery. That creates a new path for blood flow.
The whole procedure takes less than two hours. And there’s no cutting; the tube enters through a tiny hole in the patient’s wrist.
“We have shown that it can be done through the wrist, with a two-millimetre hole,” Vo said. “That’s not been done before.”
“How (Vo) did all that is amazing,” Hutchings said. “I was back to work the following week.”
Vo says before this technique, some patients with completely clogged arteries faced open heart surgery. But most had no option except drugs to reduce their pain.
“Ninety per cent of people across the world, even in Canada, are not treated,” Vo said. “So they suffer.”
Vo is the first in the world to use the new TrapLiner catheter in this way and is now teaching the technique.
The Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute is one of five centres in Canada offering antegrade dissection re-entry.