LOS ANGELES (July 6, 1999) -- Relief from the debilitating pain of angina is now more readily accessible for an estimated 10 to 15 percent of patients with significant heart disease who are unsuitable for angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery. Effective July 1, 1999, Medicare began reimbursement for transmyocardial laser revascularization (TMR) - an innovative procedure performed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center utilizing lasers to create small chambers in the heart muscle wall, stimulating the formation of new blood vessels and improving blood flow. The result, in nearly 80 percent of patients, is a significant decrease in angina pain.
"This new technique holds new hope for patients with severe chest pain who have no other options," said Cedars-Sinai cardiothoracic surgeon Gregory Fontana, M.D., who has performed approximately 50 TMR procedures. Cedars-Sinai, the first medical center in the southwest to provide TMR, has the longest and largest surgical experience in the region and previously participated in three major, national clinical trials.
According to Dr. Fontana, TMR is used extensively in Europe and Asia to relieve extreme angina, which is characterized by pain in the chest, arms, neck or back due to insufficient blood flow in the heart. Since approval by the Federal Drug Administration, the procedure has been provided at Cedars-Sinai for patients who desperately needed intervention despite the fact that TMR was not covered by Medicare or private insurance. It's anticipated that other insurers will follow Medicare's lead, making the procedure more feasible for the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 patients in the U.S. who could benefit from its effects.
Retired dentist Edwin Frischling of West Covina knows first hand the relief TMR
can provide. A nearly life-long diabetic, Dr. Frischling, 74, had suffered a
mild heart attack in 1990 and subsequently underwent a five-way bypass and two
angioplasties. Despite these procedures, he continued to expe
Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center