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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on December 12, 2002

Press Release

New Cardiac Procedure Clears Completely Blocked Arteries While Avoiding Open-Heart Surgery

Procedure is Performed for the First Time in the Washington Metropolitan Region

Takoma Park, MD - A new, less invasive procedure designed to clear completely blocked arteries has been performed for the first time in the Washington, DC metropolitan area by doctors at Washington Adventist Hospital.

Chronic total occlusion (CTO) is a potentially disabling condition in which one or more of a patient's coronary arteries is blocked 100 percent, meaning no blood can pass through the diseased site. This condition affects many patients and is a major reason that anigioplasty and stent procedures cannot be performed for patients with blocked arteries.

In the past, the best option for treating this condition was to bypass the clogged artery with open-heart surgery. However, surgery is a complex procedure, requires a longer hospital stay and intensive rehabilitation, and is more expensive. Past efforts to treat CTOs using less invasive procedures such as angioplasty have had limited success because wires used in cardiac catheterization procedures many times cannot penetrate the complete blockage.

The new procedure, performed for the first time in the Washington metropolitan region by Dr. David Brill, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Washington Adventist Hospital, has some similarities to the angioplasty procedure. Doctors begin by guiding a catheter through the femoral artery to connect to the totally obstructed heart artery. A device, known as the Frontrunner CTO Catheter, is then placed through the guiding catheter into the diseased coronary artery.

The device has a blunt tip with a scissor-like action that breaks through the scar tissue that completely blocked the artery. Once the device penetrates the obstructed segment, the procedure is completed by the insertion of a stent (tiny mesh tube) which holds the artery open.

The entire procedure is completed within 60 to 90 minutes and patients are usually discharged from the hospital the next day. The Frontrunner CTO Catheter is the first such device approved for use in the United States and was developed by LuMend, a California-based company.

"This procedure represents a great breakthrough in our ability to use a method other than open-heart surgery to successfully treat patients with a completely blocked artery," said Dr. Brill, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Washington Adventist Hospital. "It is very gratifying to eliminate symptoms in patients who in the past had the unpleasant choice of accepting a limited lifestyle or undergoing open heart surgery for relief." Dr. Brill has more than 17 years of experience in interventional cardiology and has performed more than 3,000 invasive procedures in his career.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease causes more than 500,000 deaths annually or about 1 of every 5 deaths. It's estimated that nearly 13,000,000 people alive today have a history of heart disease, chest pain or both.

Washington Adventist Hospital is a regional center for cardiology diagnosis, intervention, rehabilitation and prevention. The hospital performs some 800 open-heart surgery procedures and more than 6,000 heart catheterizations and angioplasties each year. Recently, the hospital established the Center for Cardiac and Vascular Research (CCVR) to coordinate and expand the hospital's involvement in cardiac research.

Washington Adventist Hospital is located off of University Boulevard in Takoma Park, Maryland. In addition to cardiology services, the hospital offers emergency medical care, maternity services, mental health services, radiation oncology, and many other services. Washington Adventist Hospital is affiliated with the Adventist HealthCare system.

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