Drill and suction procedure holds promise for clogged arteries

DALLAS, May 7 A device that sucks out blood clots may improve survival for people undergoing angioplasty, according to one of the first studies of its kind published in todays rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers used a marker of heart function called an ST-segment score to determine whether the X-sizer suction device could benefit heart patients. ST-segment score is calculated during an electrocardiogram. A high ST-segment score indicates a heart attack. The faster the ST-segment score decreases, or resolves, after a heart attack, the better the blood flow in coronary vessels and the better the patient will fare overall.

ST-segment resolution was observed immediately after treatment in 83 percent of patients treated with suction plus angioplasty, compared with 52 percent of those who had angioplasty alone.

Angioplasty, in which a balloon-tipped catheter is inflated to open blocked arteries, and stenting, the insertion of a wire-mesh tube to keep an artery open, are life-saving procedures when blood clots in coronary arteries cause a heart attack or unstable angina (chest pain). However, the procedures carry a risk of moving the blood clot, or fragments of it, further downstream, which could cause another heart attack or stroke.

In a trial that investigated ways to avoid the danger of these traveling blood clots, Austrian scientists used a pretreatment system that removes the clot, or thrombus, from the body. This experimental procedure is called a thrombectomy.

The X-sizer thrombectomy device is threaded through the blood vessels to the area of blockage, similar to the way a balloon-tipped catheter is positioned in angioplasty. However, the X-sizer is a two-channeled catheter. When it reaches the clot, a tiny device with a spinning helical tip in the first channel fragments the blood clot while a miniature vacuum system in the second channel sucks up the clot pie

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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