Currently, in today’s technology landscape, there is no easy way to ensure that a stent is functioning properly without resorting to an invasive procedure, the coronary angiography. To learn more about coronary angiography check out our previous article here.
This procedure is not only costly but could also pose risks to the patient. That is why the medical community is eager to incorporate new technologies that offer non-invasive stent monitoring. This article will describe the current methods for diagnosing coronary stent malfunctions and highlight their main advantages and limitations.
What is Non-invasive Coronary Computerized Tomography Angiography (CCTA)?
A non-invasive CCTA is a diagnostic imaging test that uses a powerful X-Ray machine to produce images of the heart and its blood vessels. Oftentimes the non-invasive CCTA is used to diagnose a variety of heart conditions. Usually, these angiograms are used to check narrowed or blocked arteries in the heart. This is a non-invasive procedure and does not require any recovery time after the procedure is done.
Reasons for a Non-invasive Angiography (CCTA)
Non-invasive CCTA is frequently utilized to diagnose various heart conditions, with a particular focus on coronary disease. Early identification of coronary disease holds paramount importance as it can significantly enhance a patient’s prognosis post-diagnosis and act as a preventive measure against future cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, this non-invasive technique proves valuable in investigating potential aneurysms and examining blood vessels for atherosclerosis, blood clots, and tumors2. Notably, a non-invasive Coronary Computerized Tomography Angiography for the heart stands out as a less invasive alternative compared to many other commonly used heart tests, as it eliminates the need for catheter insertion into the patient’s body.
Procedure of a Coronary Computerized Tomography Angiography
Before the procedure, patients are typically asked to remove all jewelry and glasses and change into a hospital gown. To enhance imaging results, medication may be administered to slow or stabilize the heart rate before passing X-rays through the body. Once prepared, the patient lies on a table and moves into a CT scanner, where contrast dye is injected into a vein, either through the wrist or leg, to generate clear and accurate images3. The test results are then utilized to create 3-D images, aiding the doctor in identifying any indications of coronary artery disease.
Typically lasting between 30 to 60 minutes, the procedure is followed by a short observation period to ensure the patient doesn’t experience any adverse events.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-Invasive Angiography (CCTA)
CT angiography is known for its speed, non-invasiveness, and often fewer complications compared to conventional angiography. This imaging technique is versatile, aiding in the diagnosis and evaluation of various vascular diseases. The specific type known as Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) is particularly useful at identifying plaque and blockages in the coronary arteries.
Despite being a non-invasive alternative to traditional angiography, CCTA tests come with a higher price tag and a tendency for false positives. While effective for soft tissues, the presence of metal within the body, such as a coronary stent, can result in unclear images, making it challenging to assess the stent’s functionality. Additionally, the popularity of this non-invasive option often leads to a lengthy waiting list, with patients sometimes waiting weeks or even months before being scheduled for this diagnostic technique.
NIMBLE Diagnostics as an Alternative to Invasive Angiography
NIMBLE Diagnostics has created its novel NIMBLE System that will be able to diagnose coronary stents in a non-invasive, non-ionizing setting. This device uses microwave imaging to screen the coronary stents to assess its functionality. This device may put the patient at much lower risk and promises to be much more cost-effective than the angiography.
The NIMBLE System is a first in class microwave based medical device that allows the continuous, non-invasive monitoring of patients with implanted stents. The NIMBLE System could become the first point of care to accurately measure and quantify stent malfunction. Some hospitals still perform routine 6 months follow up to ensure the correct stents’ status to reduce the risk of a second heart attack. If you wish to learn how to frequently Monitor a stent after its placement click on the link here.
Comparison with Invasive Angiography
The NIMBLE system stands out as a revolutionary alternative to Invasive Angiography. After undergoing an invasive procedure, post-operative care recommendations can differ based on individual cases, but patients are typically advised to take it easy in the initial days following the procedure. Generally, patients achieve full recovery within one week.
In contrast to this, invasive angiography is not only time-consuming, with procedures lasting between 30 minutes and 2 hours5, but it can also be financially burdensome, with costs ranging from $1,183 to $10,4234. The NIMBLE system, by offering a less time-intensive and potentially more cost-effective solution, represents a significant advancement in medical technology.
Additionally, The NIMBLE System will be able to provide comfort to the patient during a post-op recovery. Learn more about the post operational recovery of a heart attack in this article here.
Instead of conducting an invasive procedure, with long waiting list, expensive and some post-op recovery, the NIMBLE System’s promising technology would allow patients to be checked in an out-patient setting, using non-invasive, non-ionizing and potentially significatively more cost-effective solution. The NIMBLE System would potentially provide immediate feedback regarding the stent status providing a numeric accuracy never seen before.
Cardiac care is undergoing significant changes to introduce more accurate, less invasive, and cost-effective systems for patients. The current Coronary Computational Tomography Angiography (CCTA) is a non-invasive and effective diagnostic test for evaluating native vessels and organs. However, its efficacy diminishes when metallic bodies, like coronary stents, are present. In such cases, coronary angiography remains the sole precise and effective diagnostic test for patients with implanted devices.
Enter the NIMBLE System, a promising advancement that could offer accurate clinical follow-ups beyond the angiosuite. This technology may assist clinicians in diagnosing typical stent complications, such as blockages or fractures, even before symptoms manifest, marking a significant stride in proactive patient care.
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