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How a diamond-encrusted drill can help Bradford heart patients
A heart procedure which uses a diamond-encrusted drill to blast away hardened arteries is being offered to patients in Bradford for the first time.
Consultant cardiologists at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, John Kurian and Steven Lindsay are two of only five heart specialists in West Yorkshire accredited to carry out a rotational atherectomy, a type of interventional coronary procedure to help open coronary arteries blocked with calcified material and restore blood flow to the heart.
Previously, the Bradford consultants had to travel to Leeds to perform the procedure on Bradford patients but now, thanks to Bradford Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund’s purchase of a £10,980 drill, they have performed the procedure at Bradford Royal Infirmary for the first time.
The first three patients were treated on Wednesday and it is hoped to treat up to a dozen Bradford patients a year, and potentially offer the procedure to patients from neighbouring areas such as Halifax and Airedale, in the future.
Dr Lindsay said: “Normally when we put stents in coronary arteries we stretch the area of narrowing with balloon and put in the stent and that holds artery open.
“Sometimes the disease in the artery becomes very hard and turns into chalk so the balloon won’t stretch it and we can’t get a stent in the artery and so can’t treat the patients. They would have to have bypass surgery and that would mean them being referred to Leeds for that or else they would not have any treatment at all and would have to soldier on with medical therapy.
“This new device is small diamond coated burr – an olive shaped thing on the end of long wire that spins very rapidly at 155,000 revolutions per minute and it effectively pulverises the hard plaque inside the artery and creates a channel that allows you to stretch up the artery and put a stent in. We did three of them on Wednesday and it is done like normal angioplasty. The patient is conscious throughout. One patient took around 40 minutes and the others around two hours. They go home the next day.
“The hope is that it will relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life. They will have less breathlessness and less chest pain.
“This is about making sure we are delivering the best contemporary treatment we can for our patients and it means patients can get this treatment in Bradford without having to travel to other places.
“We are continuing to be at the forefront of treatment locally.”
Ronald Clarke, 78, of Eccleshill, has a long history of coronary disease and has had coronary artery bypass surgery. He wasn’t responding to conventional techniques so doctors decided this new procedure was worth trying.
Mr Clarke said: “Before this procedure I had shortness of breath and angina pains which feel like a tightness down the centre of the chest. I have had no symptoms since I went for the procedure yesterday and I feel fantastic.
“I was in the lab for about two hours and during the procedure I didn’t feel a thing. The doctor inserted the drill up my vein in my wrist and up arm, into my heart, and drilled the calcium away. They then stretched the artery at the back of my heart with three balloons and inserted the stent.
“Compared to normal surgery this was marvellous because I had no pain, no anaesthetic, just a needle into my arm and I was conscious throughout.
“Now a day later I feel totally and completely fine and am going home later this morning. I have felt a lot better since having this procedure done. To give you an example, before just trying to get dressed left me short of breath. Yet this morning, I got up and got dressed no problem at all. This procedure is marvellous and I would recommend it to anyone.”
He said when he had a bypass in 1989, the doctors said it would give him another ten years. That was 23 years ago. Now doctors say the latest procedure should guarantee him another 15 years.