imageAs interventional cardiology procedures continue to become less invasive, intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and intracardiac ultrasound (ICE) are offering some solid evidence that they should be playing a pivotal role in the conversion.

Despite demonstrated benefits — improved patient outcomes, real-time imaging, and the elimination of fluoroscopy exposure for both interventionalist and patient — the frequency of the vascular procedures using IVUS and ICE technology remain limited (estimated about 5 percent in the United States) and are found mostly in heart clinics and academic medical centers with large volumes of patients. Issues including reimbursement, the technologies’ inherent learning curves and interventionists’ high comfort level with angiography and fluoroscopy for cardiac procedures keep IVUS and ICE in the hands of the few.

Intravascular ultrasound
With heart disease retaining its disturbing distinction as the leading cause of death in the United States year after year, non-invasive cardiac interventionists and researchers are using IVUS to help improve outcomes for patients undergoing coronary procedures such as atherectomy (opening coronary arteries blocked by plaque), angioplasty and stent placement. Studies have shown that the use of IVUS technology for these procedures produces patient benefits, including reliable information on stent size and the elimination of the need to undergo repeat catheterization five or six months down the road.

IVUS catheters are side-viewing devices. Once inserted in the femoral vein, they provide the interventionalist with real-time images obtained perpendicularly to the vessel.

Please refer to the December 2001 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis