Innovative Cardiac Catheter Helps Destroy Clots and Open Blocked Coronary Arteries
Jefferson cardiologists successfully destroyed and removed an extensive blood clot from the coronary artery of a 45-year-old man by using an AngioJet catheter. This new instrument targets clots with six high-speed saline jets and pumps the debris out of the artery into an external collection device. This catheterization, followed immediately by balloon angioplasty to help the artery remain open, allowed the patient to avoid bypass surgery. The AngioJet is an investigational device being tested at 25 hospitals in the nation under FDA supervision. Jefferson was the first hospital in the Mid-Atlantic region to perform this procedure.
Michael Savage, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology
and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Jefferson, performed the
procedure and believes that the
patient's history made him the perfect candidate. "The patient had multiple heart attacks and a huge blood clot had been present in his artery for four months," explains Dr. Savage. "Since the clot formed, the patient experienced angina even after only minor
physical exertion. As a result, his quality of life became extremely poor, prompting his cardiologists in Williamsport to refer him to Jefferson. With the help of the AngioJet, we were able to successfully eliminate the clot, restore the patient's quality of life and avoid open heart surgery."
The AngioJet is 140 centimeters long and is deployed through a guiding sheath that is inserted into an artery in the leg, up the aorta to the heart. Once positioned in the coronary artery, the tip of the catheter acts much like a shower head, spraying six jets of saline around the clot. These saline streams break down the clot and the vacuum-like nature of the AngioJet pumps the debris out of the artery. With the clot gone, doctors can proceed with balloon angioplasty to repair the fatty blockage which caused the clot.
"The AngioJet requires only mild intraveneous sedation rather than the general anesthesia that would be required with bypass surgery," says Dr. Savage. "I am pleased to say that our patient is doing extremely well. It is encouraging to see how new technology can help us do things that were once impossible, lessening the patient's physical and emotional strain."