Local doctor among first in United States to use new heart cleaning device

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POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 8:53pm

A local doctor is on the cutting edge of heart surgery.

Dr. Bahij Khuri, an interventional cardiologist at Ochsner, is the first doctor in Baton Rouge and one of the few in the nation to use a Coronary Orbital Atherectomy System.

The device, manufactured by CSI and known as the Diamondback 360, features a wire attached to a console. The wire contains a diamond-tipped crown that spins, cleaning calcium blockages out of the arteries in the heart before a coronary stent is implanted, "to treat very complex disease, and make it into a simple case, and avoid complication for the patient," Dr. Khuri said.

Stents keep blood flowing through the heart properly for people with heart disease, but calcium deposits make stents less effective.

"What this device does for you," Dr. Khuri explained, "it prepares the artery for you. And what it does, it basically goes in and sands the blood vessel, eats up all the hard, calcified blockages in a centrifugal form, and spares the blood vessel wall that's healthy and does not cause any damage to the blood vessel wall, and hence pave the way for you to get your stent in safely and avoid complications for the patients." 

Dr. Khuri had used a different atherectomy device for the last three years, but it was designed for use in the arms and legs, not the heart. The new model got FDA approval at the end of 2013, and it only takes five minutes to use. It is meant for, "that patient that shows up complaining of chest pain; they have abnormal stress tests; they're coming to the cath (catheterization) lab," Dr. Khuri explained. "Or, they might have a small heart attack. Not a big heart attack when you go in and you emergently take care of them. "

Dr. Khuri did his first procedure with the new atherectomy system on Friday, and did several more on Monday. He said up to 40 percent of the patients he sees in the cath lab at Ochsner would be candidates for the new device. Ochsner is one of approximately 35 hospitals in the country that have this kind of equipment.

"This means a lot," Dr. Khuri stated," because we always like to be on the front end of doing things, and provide care, the best care we can for the patient, always try to get, use the latest technology."

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