KUALA LUMPUR: Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) which is Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved has been revealed by the National Heart Institute (IJN) as a newer and safer method to treat heart patients suffering from severe atherosclerosis.
IJN, in a statement, said the procedure that makes use of sonic waves to break down hard calcified plaque accumulated in the arteries was successfully performed by IJN doctors yesterday, which is the first time IVL is performed in Malaysia.
It explained that atherosclerosis is a condition where cholesterol, fats, and calcium deposits form plaque in the arteries, in which the accumulation of the plaque causes narrowing of arteries and limited blood flow.
When discovered early, atherosclerosis can be treated with lifestyle changes and medication to slow down or even reverse the build-up of plaque, but more serious blockage meanwhile are commonly treated using angioplasty and stent placement that involves using a small balloon attached to a catheter which is delivered to the site of the blockage through blood vessels.
The balloon is then inflated to expand the artery and push aside the plaque which a stent be placed to keep the artery open for good blood flow.
However, according to IJN Senior Consultant Cardiologist Datuk Dr Amin Ariff Nuruddin, angioplasty may not be useful in severe cases where the plaque has hardened and become calcified.
“When the plaque has hardened to that extent, patients may have to undergo an invasive surgical procedure to treat the condition, where doctors have to surgically remove the plaque or even perform a graft bypass to ensure good blood flow. In this regard, IVL offers us a minimally-invasive treatment option that lessens the risks of surgery for these patients.
“Similar to angioplasty, IVL utilises a catheter with a balloon attached but the difference is the balloon generates sonic pressure waves to break the plaque instead of just physically pushing it away which may not be possible in this ‘hard calcified’ plaque. This will allow blood vessel lumen expansion and optimise stent deployment at the narrowed vessel area,” said Dr Amin.
He added that besides the ease of use of the device, it also reduces the trauma to the tissue, as it selectively pinpoints the blockage.
“This, in turn, minimises the risk of the patient developing other complications following the procedure as compared to the other current debulking devices presently available,” he said. — Bernama