By PETER ORENGO
Doctors at the Aga Khan University Hospital have for the first time carried out a new procedure that uses sound waves to determine the amount of blood clot in the veins.
Known as Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS), the procedure is a medical imaging technique that uses a specially designed tube with a miniaturised ultrasound instrument attached to a computer.
The procedure allows ultrasound technology to see from inside blood vessels, visualising the inner wall of blood vessels in living individuals.
“The procedure has allowed us to decide whether the inner lining of the artery had been damaged significantly and whether a stent should be placed in the artery to improve healing of the artery,” said Dr Mohamed Jeilan.
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A tube attached to a catheter also takes pictures, which doctors can use to analyse the type and mechanism of narrowing in the artery.
Traditionally, the most common form of heart disease in the world has been rheumatic caused by bacterial infection. This illness affects young children and adults.
However, as communities acquire improved sanitation and better medical services, rheumatic heart disease is relegated to the background and coronary artery disease takes over.
The IVUS catheter comes at the most opportune time for medics as the procedure improves the treatment of patients with heart attacks.
Dr Ngunga said the traditional approach to the treatment of blocked and narrowed heart arteries was by the use of bypass surgery.
“We harvests veins from the legs and uses an artery on the chest wall to bypass the blockages by implanting new conduits directly from the aorta past the area of blockage. This way, we create a new vessel and leave the old vessel as it was,” said the medic.
This procedure was first performed by Dr Andreas Gruentzig, in Switzerland in 1977.
Since then it has advanced greatly and is performed in many hospitals by cardiologists around the world.