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Surgery Rate After Angioplasty Nosedives

Better technique, new technology dramatically reduce need for an operation

TUESDAY, Oct. 15, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- When angioplasty was first introduced, surgery also was sometimes necessary.

But the need for an operation after angioplasty has been greatly reduced, according to research published in today's issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association. The reason: Surgeons have become much more adept in performing angioplasty, and the instruments used are much more sophisticated.

The procedure has been to have a standby surgical team ready in case of complications during angioplasty. Angioplasty involves inserting a balloon-tipped catheter into a narrowed artery and then inflating the balloon to reopen the vessel

The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Patrick L. Whitlow, director of interventional cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland. More than 18,500 angioplasty cases were examined, covering a period from 1992 to 2000.

"We found a significant decline in the prevalence of emergency bypass surgery, from 1.5 percent in 1992 to 0.14 percent in 2000, more than a 10-fold decline," an American Heart Assocation news release quotes Whitlow as saying. "The data suggest that the overall safety of angioplasty has dramatically improved in the last decade."

In addition to more experienced doctors and better technology, the researchers said that new anti-clotting drugs have made angioplasty more effective. They also found that patients more likely to need emergency heart bypass surgery were women, people with complex blockages or having angoioplasty because of a heart attack.

More information

This information from MEDLINE plus, part of the National Institutes of Health, gives the latest developments in angioplasty.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Oct. 14, 2002
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