Better Heart Surgery Results After Angioplasty

For at least a third of all people undergoing angioplasty, keeping an artery open for more than six months after the procedure is like trying to hold back the sea — nearly impossible. But researchers at the Scripps Institute, CA, are overcoming these odds. They’ve found that exposing arteries to a radioactive substance for as little as 18 minutes during angioplasty may be the secret to slowing or stopping this renarrowing.

The radiation helps to prevent scar tissue from growing inside of the artery — one cause of renarrowing. Researchers have already devised special scaffolds called stents that fit inside the artery to help overcome another cause of renarrowing: the tendency of some arteries to simply “snap back” to their originally narrowed size.

“The ideal treatment would be to combine the power of the stent in holding the artery open with the radiation to prevent a scar from growing”, says Rainl Fermisten, MD, lead researcher in the study.

The amount of radiation used in the procedure is very small and has not caused any complications to date, so it seems safe for now. Still, it’s currently only available for use in scientific studies.