SSM Health Medical Minute: Once obsolete procedure seeing a revival for younger heart patients

ST. LOUIS - A procedure once considered obsolete has seen a revival at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles. Vascular brachytherapy treats a condition known as in-stent restenosis, a re-narrowing of a coronary artery within a previously placed stent. It utilizes a catheter to administer a small dose of radiation within the stent, which inhibits cell growth and prevents the formation of scar tissue.

Brachytherapy was a widely used procedure about 15 years ago. Since then, it has been largely phased out due to the availability of drug-eluting stents. Brachytherapy has a renewed clinical role due to patients living longer, given the success of previous stent procedures in combination with medications and previous bypass surgeries.

Stents became available in 1993, and many patients are living longer with previously implanted stents. A small percentage of these patients are experiencing multiple occurrences of restenosis, and placing additional stents or undergoing bypass surgery are not options.

Brachytherapy offers these patients a suitable alternative. It has been shown to significantly reduce their chances of future adverse cardiac events as compared to other treatment options.

“We have an artery that we’ve re-opened, we don’t put a third stent in, and we’ve found that the results of keeping the artery open are much better with brachytherapy than other options we have,” said Dr. Mark Taber, a cardiologist with SSM Health Medical Group.

SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles is the only hospital in the region and one of few nation-wide that are actively performing the vascular brachytherapy procedure. For more information about heart care, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Wednesday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​

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