El Camino Hospital To Train Doctors In Carotid Artery Stent Procedure

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- El Camino Hospital (ECH) today announced that it will host a training course this week for physicians to learn how to perform the carotid artery stent procedure. Carotid artery stenting represents a promising therapy for carotid arterial disease, or blocked arteries in the neck, which can lead to stroke. Currently, most patients with the disease must undergo a major surgery, known as carotid endarterectomy (CEA), which requires general anesthesia and an incision in the neck and carotid artery to remove built-up plaque.

"Carotid stents provide a minimally invasive alternative to open surgery, and a trial recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has shown it to be a safer procedure in patients who are otherwise at high risk for the surgical approach," said James Joye, D.O, director of the cardiac catheterization laboratories at El Camino Hospital. "Currently only the sickest patients -- those who already are experiencing symptoms of stroke and have a 70 percent or greater blockage -- can take advantage of this minimally invasive approach, unless they're involved in a clinical trial. We look forward to the CMS decision with great anticipation that they will consider expanding coverage to include patients in earlier stages of the disease."

Last fall, the CMS published a draft decision on carotid stenting, which limited coverage to high-risk patients who are symptomatic of stroke. The decision was open for public comment until January 17, 2005 and prompted rigorous debate in the medical community due to its exclusion of patients who are at high surgical risk, but not yet experiencing symptoms of stroke. The final CMS ruling on this issue is expected in mid to late March.

El Camino Hospital will host a Carotid Education Course on February 2 and 3 at the hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Lab. The two-day educational program will integrate didactic education, live-case observation and "hands on" simulation training for interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons. The Continuing Medical Education (CME) accredited course is one of only a few available throughout the country, and physicians that complete the course will then be able to receive specific device training and proctorship to perform the procedure in their own institution.

Dr. Joye started the carotid program in 1999 with a grant from the El Camino Hospital Foundation and has treated nearly 400 patients over the last five years with excellent results. El Camino Hospital has the ability to treat both symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid artery patients, and continues to participate in clinical trials that serve such patient subsets. In addition to ongoing trials, El Camino Hospital soon will begin enrollment in a trial to compare CEA and carotid stenting in patients who are considered low risk, thus evaluating the value of the procedure for all patients and not just those considered high risk.

About Carotid Stenting

In vascular intervention, wire mesh tubes, known as stents, are used to prop open a blocked artery that has recently been cleared using angioplasty. Carotid stenting is similar to angioplasty and stenting that is performed in the heart, using a hair-thin wire that is advanced through a catheter (plastic tube) through the blockage. The wires used for carotid blockages also have an expandable filter or umbrella that filters the blood during the procedure so that any particles that might break free from the plaque can be captured and removed. A balloon is used to dilate the artery and a stent is placed to provide a scaffolding or support to keep the artery open long-term.

Carotid stenting offers a less invasive treatment option that is at least as effective compared to traditional CEA surgery, and could result in fewer side effects, such as heart attacks, strokes or nerve injury according to clinical trial studies. In addition, the likelihood of restenosis after stenting is very low (approximately 3 percent) and if it occurs it can be easily treated with repeat angioplasty.

About Carotid Arterial Disease

Carotid arterial disease is the narrowing of the main arteries in the neck that provide blood supply to the brain, also known as carotid arteries. The narrowing is caused by plaque build up in the blood vessel, which decreases blood flow to the brain and can cause blood clots or pieces of the plaque to break away and further block arteries leading to the brain.

Reduced blood flow to the brain can result in stroke, a type of cardiovascular disease that is the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association (AHA). It is estimated that 700,000 Americans will have a stroke in 2005.

About El Camino Hospital:

El Camino Hospital features state-of-the-art cardiovascular services and a team of dedicated doctors and nurses who provide high quality care in areas ranging from prevention and diagnosis to advanced endovascular procedures and cardiac surgeries. El Camino Hospital's heart specialists are leaders in the development of minimally invasive techniques, and provide international cardio and vascular expertise in California's high-tech Silicon Valley.

Consistently ranked as a leading hospital in the area, El Camino Hospital recently received the highest ranking in the California Hospital Experience Survey. The hospital has received national recognition for several pioneering programs in the areas of cardiac treatment, radiation oncology and maternity. For more than 43 years, El Camino Hospital has been distinguished by its high caliber staff and affiliated physicians, comprehensive and innovative services and a long history of responding to the needs of the community it serves.

El Camino Hospital

CONTACT: media, Jennifer Barfoot of WeissComm Partners, +1-415-692-4223

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