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Briefly in the news

April 13, 2001

Hoag Heart Institute this week became the first in Orange County to

perform a new procedure for people with arteries that have become blocked

again after surgery.

The procedure, called intra-coronary brachytherapy, is used to treat

patients who experience tissue growth after the placement of one or more

stents -- small, metal scaffolds commonly used to support coronary

arteries following angioplasty.

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This condition currently afflicts approximately 100,000 Americans per

year -- or 20% of the stented population.

Doctors at Hoag Heart Institute perform brachytherapy by delivering

beta-radiation to the site of the blocked artery using radioactive seeds

positioned via a catheter within the stent.

The low-dose radiation is administered for approximately three to five

minutes and then completely removed, leaving no permanent radioactive

source within the patient. The procedure aims to prevent tissue regrowth

therefore restoring normal blood flow to the artery.

The experience is no different from that of angioplasty. The length of

hospital stay and expected recovery time are the same.

The procedure "gives us another option to clear blockage from the

arteries of certain patients and return normal blood flow to the heart

without surgery," said Richard Haskell, a cardiologist at the institute.

Haskell is one of four physicians certified to perform the procedure at

Hoag Hospital.

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