Penn Highlands Mon Valley Uses New Device to “Crack the Calcium"

Adil Waheed, DO, a board-certified interventional cardiologist at Penn Highlands Mon Valley (left), performed the hospital’s first IVL procedure. He is shown with Richard Ciccarelli, RTR, Cath Lab Director.

Penn Highlands Mon Valley is offering a new treatment that enables some people with heart disease who need angioplasty to bypass open heart surgery.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which can narrow the artery. Coronary angioplasty is a common procedure used throughout the U.S. to open blocked coronary arteries and restore blood flow to the heart without open-heart surgery. Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately 1 million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30% have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events. If there is too much calcification in the artery, angioplasty cannot be performed and bypass surgery is necessary to restore the blood flow.

Physicians at Penn Highlands Mon Valley recently began using the innovative Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System to help “crack the calcium” in patients who have highly calcified lesions in their coronary arteries. The IVL system uses sonic pressure waves — known as shockwaves, which travel from a balloon-based catheter to the surrounding tissue, to safely and selectively break superficial and deep calcium deposits. Once the calcium has been cracked, the artery can be expanded at low pressure so that a stent can be implanted to improve blood flow. The minimally invasive procedure, which is performed on an outpatient basis in the hospital’s Interventional Radiology Suite, takes from 30 to 90 minutes to complete.

“The cardiology team at Penn Highlands Mon Valley is steadfast in our commitment to provide our patients with access to the latest and safest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Adil Waheed, DO, a board-certified interventional cardiologist at Penn Highlands Cardiology in Monongahela. “It is exciting to be starting a new chapter in the treatment of heart disease in some of the most complex patient cases — especially one that improves the safety of the procedure for our patients.”

Peter J. Adamo, Penn Highlands Healthcare Southwestern Region Market President, shares Dr. Waheed’s enthusiasm. “The IVL System is a great addition to our cardiovascular services. This new standard of care helps to ensure that patients who need a more complex procedure can remain in their own community to receive interventional care by the medical professionals they know and trust.”

Penn Highlands Mon Valley is continually recognized by prestigious national organizations for its commitment to providing high quality cardiac care. In the past three years, Penn Highlands Mon Valley was named “One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention” by Healthgrades; a “Best Hospital in Heart Failure” by U.S. News & World Report; and “One of America’s Best Hospitals for Heart Care” by the Women’s Choice Award. In addition, the hospital has earned the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines Heart Failure Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.