Minnesota cardiologist 1st in state to perform novel procedure

An interventional cardiologist at Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health has performed the state's first intravascular lithotripsy, a procedure in which a balloon is inserted into the artery and delivers sonic pressure waves to break off calcified plaque, which optimizes stent placement, the Duluth News Tribune reported April 10. 

"I didn't know it was going to be the first in the state until after it was done, so that's probably good," Nicole Worden, MD, who performed the procedure March 12, told the newspaper. "You don't want to have that kind of pressure beforehand." 

Dr. Worden performed the IVL on Carolyne Strumbel, an 84-year-old woman who was experiencing heart attack symptoms. Ms. Strumbel's arteries were 70-80 percent blocked. 

The procedure posed less risk compared to open heart surgery, based on Ms. Strumbel's age and other medical conditions. It's also gentler on the arteries compared to an atherectomy, which instead involves the use of a drill-like tool to remove the plaque. 

The patient was discharged from Essential Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth five days after the procedure. 

"It just snapped me back to normal, a natural feeling, and I just couldn't believe it," Ms. Strumbel told the Duluth News Tribune. "I expected surgery to be a thing I would have to recover from, but it was just gone and done and fine." 

The FDA approved IVL in February. 

To read the full Duluth News Tribune article, click here. 

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