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HMFW Physician Involved in National Clinical Trial

FORT WORTH, Texas — A minimally invasive technique used to help prevent heart attack is now being used to reduce the risk of stroke associated with carotid artery disease. Frank Rivera, M.D., an endovascular neurointerventionist on the medical staff at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, and a key physician involved in several national clinical trials, is using the new treatment device, recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as a minimally invasive alternative to traditional treatment of carotid artery disease.

The Net Advantage
The RX ACCULINK™ Carotid Stent System and RX ACCUNET™ Embolic Protection System by Guidant Corporation combine traditional angioplasty and stenting techniques with new, net-like technology to capture plaque particles that may loosen and travel to the brain during the procedure, subsequently causing a stroke. By coupling the two minimally invasive techniques, physicians are able to open clogged carotid arteries while also reducing the risk of stroke for patients.

“This technique is a breakthrough for patients with carotid artery disease, especially for those at high risk for surgical treatment,” Rivera said. “It is a potentially safer treatment option for high-risk patients than the traditional carotid endarterectomy surgical treatment, and we're happy to provide this new technology and alternative to our patients.”

Improving the Standard
Carotid artery disease is characterized by the build-up of plaque inside the carotid arteries, which are located in the neck and carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. Stroke occurs when these arteries become blocked with plaque or when a piece of the plaque breaks off of the artery wall and travels to the brain. An estimated 25 percent of strokes are caused by carotid artery disease, according to the device's manufacturer.

The standard surgical treatment for stroke prevention, carotid endarterectomy, is an open surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia that requires an incision in the patient's neck and days spent in the hospital for recovery.

Procedure Profile
During the new, less-invasive procedure, a catheter is inserted through a small incision in the groin and navigated to the blockage site. The Accunet device is introduced through the catheter and deployed past the blockage site. Much like a tiny protective net, the embolic protection device sits ready to capture loose and potentially damaging debris. Next, a balloon catheter is guided to the blockage site to push plaque against the artery walls and open up the vessel. A third catheter then delivers the Acculink stent and deploys it to maintain the open artery. Lastly, the protective net containing the loose debris is removed.

The procedure is performed in the Vascular and Interventional Radiology Center (VIRC) at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. The VIRC, the capstone of the hospital's Neuroscience Center of Excellence, offers physicians in the community and the residents of Tarrant County a comprehensive program to treat all neurovascular conditions with non-surgical and surgical techniques. For a physician referral, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS.

About Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital
Opened in 1930, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW) is Tarrant County's largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 610 beds and provides the following services: cardiovascular; neurosciences; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more.

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