The last thing you want to hear after having an angiogram is that some of your arteries are 100% blocked. Ten years ago, this diagnosis meant that you would likely need to be on medication for the rest of your life, require heart by-pass surgery, or both. Physicians like R. Michael Wyman, MD, a cardiologist with Cor Healthcare Cardiology Group, are utilizing innovative technology to dramatically change lives for people with
Chronic Totally Occluded Arteries (CTO) and make it possible for patients to avoid both of those options.
At Torrance Memorial, people with completely blocked arteries have benefited from Wyman's expertise and his participation in using the newest FDA-approved technology. In fact, Wyman helped researchers test the BridgePoint Device, which revolutionizes the way 100% blocked arteries can be cleared. Picture completely blocked arteries-they have hard calcified plaques that a catheter has to navigate around or through to clear. And since the artery is 100% blocked, a physician can't rely on an x-ray dye pathway to always see where the catheter should travel.
"The BridgePoint Device is a system with three different components with the goal to get around or through the blockage and into the true channel of the artery with a guide wire," Wyman explains.
The new CrossBoss Catheter, Stingray Catheter and Stingray Guidewire by BridgePoint were approved by the FDA this past Spring after successful clinical trials in which Wyman participated.
Wyman has utilized this system with patients at Torrance Memorial's Lundquist Cardiovascular Institute for the past two years. He estimates that he treats approximately 100 patients a year with CTO, but he is helping patients nationwide as well. Physicians across the country are being trained by Wyman on how to successfully clear fully-blocked arteries and success rates for patients with CTO are improving.
Patients with CTO are amazingly lucky to find Wyman- who is one of the most experienced and educated physicians in America on the topic of this dangerous condition. Wyman was a bit humble in the interview-and even pointed out how the Japanese were pioneers in the treatment of CTO years ago. As most people realize, however, the best physicians always strive to learn from others, expand on that information and explore more ideas through research.
Wyman, who earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completed dual fellowship programs at Boston's Beth Israel Hospital (Cardiology) and Harvard Medical School (Medicine), exemplifies this. He has travelled multiple times to Japan to work with physicians specializing in CTO treatment there. He also spent time in Chile as an early evaluator of the BridgePoint system, and was one of the top enrollers in the US clinical trial. As the study investigator, Wyman travelled to Washington, D.C., to present the findings to the interventional community. This information helped garner FDA approval, which came earlier this year.
"Chronic occlusions are the ultimate endpoint to coronary artery disease. One hundred percent blocked arteries are the hardest to be fixed. When people started doing angio plasty in the early '80s, some tried to open CTO's up and success rates were pretty low. But with improvement in devices and techniques, success rates have gone way up from 50% 10 years ago to the recent 85 % to 90% range for experienced operators," Wyman says.
Amazingly, after a short recovery period, Wyman's patients go on with their lives-even resuming rigorous exercise activities.