Willis-Knighton Heart & Vascular Institute First in Northwest Louisiana with Shockwave Coronary Lithotripsy

Apr 20, 2021

Willis-Knighton Heart & Vascular Institute is the first in Northwest Louisiana to offer a new life-saving procedure Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy for coronary arteries. The first procedures were performed by Jonathan M. Davis, MD, and Robert Martin, MD, of Pierremont Cardiology.

The transformative technology is used to treat severely calcified cardiovascular disease by opening clogged heart arteries that are especially difficult to unblock due to hard calcium deposits in the arteries.

The minimally invasive procedure, which takes about one hour, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in late February for the treatment of blocked coronary arteries. The Shockwave IVL System is based on the same technology used to destroy kidney stones so they can more easily pass through the urinary tract.

Shockwave works by threading a catheter through the femoral or radial artery to the location of the blockage and inflating a special balloon. An electrical discharge from emitters on the catheter vaporizes the fluid within the balloon, creating a rapidly expanding and collapsing bubble that generates sonic pressure waves. The waves pass through soft tissue and create micro-fractures in the calcium inside the vessel and embedded within its walls. After the calcium is cracked, a balloon fully expands the vessel, and a drug-eluting stent is safely implanted to improve blood flow.

"As interventional cardiologists, calcium deposition in the blood vessel wall represents the most difficult impediment to successful placement of a stent in a heart artery,” Dr. Davis says. “We are encountering this more and more as people are living longer with heart disease. Historically, this has been accomplished using devices that require a rotating burr that ‘sands’ or modifies the calcified plaque. Intravascular lithotripsy offers the same plaque modification without the risk associated with these devices. It is exciting to be able to offer this technology to our patients to optimize their stent result and improve their symptoms and quality of life."

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.