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Who is a doctor?  Where are they made?

I haven’t clearly understood the true meaning of customary Dr tag, my name carries for more than 3 decades, till I saw this. Wish, this video is played to all young medical students on their graduation day.

             I am realizing with guilt, it requires a Holywood movie buff to remind us the true meaning of the famous WHO – definition of Health, done in the most holistic fashion in the year 1948. 

Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

So, technically, whoever serves to improve these three components and alleviate human suffering becomes a doctor. 

Happy to share this on July 1st, the official Doctor’s day in India in memory of the Bharat Ratna Dr.B.C.Roy of Bengal. 

Reference

The clip is from the movie Patch Adams, Directed by Tom Shadyac.  A Hollywood celebrity movie maker, Virginian professor of communication turned philanthropist, now retired to a minimalist life. He is also known for his famous documentary I am that talks about the problems faced by the world. Though his works are much appreciated, I  must say, they are underrated. Deserves more than an Oscar for communicating his thoughts on the medical profession perfectly and for social equality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it is an Invalid question. Whether you like it or not , medical science and philosophy are always bonded together and its relationship is eternal. It doesn’t make sense to separate them. I think we have misunderstood the meaning of philosophy. While science is presumed truths, philosophy is trying to believe in unknown truths. Philosophical truths are built-into every decision a medical professional takes.

If the expected natural history of any disease is science, unexpected deviations are philosophy. (RT PCR testing for diagnosing  Corona is science, why 90% of them are not infective and don’t transform disease is philosophy) When something is not seen or quantifiable like human immunity, it is a perfect example of concealed science or manifest philosophy.

Taking about what we think we know is science, Talking about what we really don’t know is philosophy. The term Idiopathic syndrome finds a  proud of the place in every specialty in medicine, Isn’t? 

 What will be your answer when your patient wants an assurance that a stent, you had just implanted will not get occluded in the next 6 months or so.“I don’t know, I cant assure you about that”  will be your most likely answer. (Though, we do it in style, hiding behind  the scientific hyperbole decorated with numbers,  also referred to as statistics) Please realize, this is the expression of medical philosophy in the finest form.

Final message 

My Impression is, philosophical truths should be liberally used in a regular fashion right from the first-year medical school to advanced specialty teaching. This seems essential as science in the current times suffers from too much sanctity. This has spilled over to the doctor population as well, and make them appear invincible. 

If only we realize science often trails behind the philosophical truths at least by a few decades, our patients will not be injured inappropriately and prematurely. Mixing science with philosophy in the right composition ( a perfect academic cocktail ) will bring out the best from the noble profession.   

Postamble

Can anyone guess, why scientists are given a doctorate in Philosophy degree  (PhD ) ?

A young man aged around 40 years, had a STEMI was promptly thrombolysed in a small hospital located about 40 KM away in the suburbs of my city Chennai. They did an awesome job of saving the patient life and salvaging the myocardium.

Now begins the story . . . one of the non-medical person who is the owner of the hospital has an unfortunate working  business relationship with a frighteningly big nearby hospital  which had signed a memorandum of irresponsible understanding . It demanded any  patient who arrives in the small hospital with MI should be transferred at earliest opportunity to them.

So, an ambulance was arranged  and the patient (with a fairly well reperfused heart ) was shifted  in an emergency fashion . It reached desired destination after nicely chugging along the choked chaotic Chennai evening traffic for 45 minutes.

The guy was taken directly to cath lab through the side doors to perform a second salvage  procedure on a successfully opened IRA. Young cardiology consultants  in designer cath suite welcomed the smiling ACS patient to their posh new lab .Did few rapid radial shots, mumbled among themselves for few minutes,  decided to stent  a minimal LAD lesion for a patient who was in  zero distress with well-preserved LV function.

*The relatives of the patients were curious when they were asked sign a fresh set of consent which elaborately  mentioned about possible life risk during the procedure.

The patient’s wife  was clearly  amused and she pointed out to the superior cardiologists about  the earlier briefing by the Inferior freelance cardiologist who treated him in the previous hospital. She recalled , “I was told in confident terms  that  Initial thrombolysis  has been spectacularly  successful and bulk of the treatment is over and risk of complication has dramatically reduced”.

Then why is this distressing risk taking story again ,  she asked ?

The doctors hurriedly explained ,”this procedure is different. We are sorry to say we have no other option but to add  further risk to you” ! but , its all for your good !

Why should I ?  If the initial lysis is very successful  why do you want to meddle with it again ?

No Madam , you are ill-informed , you can’t talk like that .This is what modern  science  is all about. Leave the professional decision to us. We need to check immediately  whether the lysis is really successful .We can’t rely on the ECG.Further, true success lies in stenting the lesion as we fear the ill-fated site may close again.We are  taught to practice protocols based on standard scientific guidelines. This hospital has highest rating in-terms of quality care. That’s why we got updated ISO 2000  NABH accreditation

The women who is a soft ware engineer was smartly and  scientifically silenced in 5 minutes flat !

Post-amble :

What happened  to the patient then ? (When you fear something it happens is in’t the  Murphy’s law ?)

The apparently asymptotic and comfortable patient had uneventful PCI. A  long drug eluting  stent  was  implanted in recanalized  lesion in LAD with around 30 % narrowing that ended with an innocuous looking diagonal pinch. The procedure was uneventful , however next day he developed some fresh ECG changes and chest pain . The worried team took him for another angio found  stent was patent But , ultimately after a stressful 3 days of stay , some thing went wrong he ended up with new LV dysfunction.He got discharged fine with a caution  that , his stent needs to intensively monitored for the next 1 year since technically he had recurrent ACS !

Lessons we don’t learn from such cases.

When two procedures are done to accomplish the same aim (Reperfusion) , but with  differing success rates, expertise, time ,and unpredictable hazards , the benefits from them may not add together. There is clear knowledge deficit here. Scientific data can never provide fair answers to  these questions  as all real life cofounders can never be recreated in study population.

While we expect 1+1 to become  two in pharmaco-Invasvie strategy  ,one should realise it may end up with  either zero or even  – 2 .

1 -1 = 0

-1 + (-1)=  -2 ?

Learning cardiology from lay persons 

The patient’s shrewd wife threw this question ,

After two modes of re-perfusion done sequentially in my  husband’s  heart ,  at a total cost of Rs4.5Lakhs Why he  is  still left with significant LV dysfunction (Which was  around 40% EF.)

The query raised by the lady appeared much more crucial and logical than the ones discussed in many top-notch live interventional workshops we attend every few months!

As usual , I started mulling over the issue. There is something wrong with the way , we  understand  the pharmaco invasive approach-PIA .You go with it only if  initial pharmacological  approach has failed.

Of Course ,there is one more modality possible ie Pharmaco -Angio strategy where in, you look at the coronary anatomy and take a call ! This sounds good , the only issue is taking a right call ! My experience suggests wrong calls are the rule and  exceptions are rare. Then a whole new issue erupts about all those non IRA lesions

Final message

So,  til we have gain complete self-control over our evolved ignorance and evolving knowledge , it is better to follow this proposed  funny new ACS algorithm called “Pharmaco -non invasive” approach (PNIA)  in asymptomatic ACS patients  who have had apparently successful lysis.

*Please note, Incidentally  PNIA actually  refers to simple good old traditional stand alone thrombolysis.

Counter point

No one can deny Interventional cardiology carries a risk of untoward effects.Don’t blow this out of proportion. Do you know, how many lives have been saved by routine Pharmaco -Invasive approach ?

I am not sure , my experience may be limited.Let me ask the readers. Is routine PIA is warranted in all asymptomatic , successfully lysed STEMIs ?

100% occlusion of a coronary artery result in STEMI.This includes both thrombus and mechanical component .We are very much blinded till we touch , feel and see the lesion with a wire or IVUS to quantify the mechanical component’s  contribution in the genesis of  STEMI.It is generally believed (True as well ) thrombus is the chief culprit .It can even be 100 % thrombotic STEMI with  just a residual endothelial  erosion and hence
zero mechanical component .However , the point of contention that non flow limiting lesion is more likely to cause a thrombotic STEMI than a flow liming
lesion  seems to be biased and misunderstood scientific fact .

What happens once 100 % occlusion take place ?

Sudden occlusion , is expected to evoke a strong fire fighting response within the coronary artery.The immediate reaction is the activation of  tissue plasminogen system. In this aftermath  few succumb . ( Re-perfusion arrhythmia  generated as VF ) .The TPA system activates and tries to lyse the clot.The volume , morphology, attachment, content of thrombus ,  and the elasticity of fibrin mesh , location of  platelet core would determine the life and dissolvablity of thrombus. Even a trickle flow can keep the distal vessel patent .(Please note a timely TIMI 2 flow can be a greater achievement than a delayed TIMI 3  flow !)

thrombus propgation
What happens to the natural history of thrombus in STEMI ?
Thrombus formed over the culprit lesion can follow any of the following course

  •  Can remain static
  •  Get lysed by natural or pharmacological means
  •  Progress distally (By fragmentation or by moving en-mass )
  •  Grow proximal and and involve more serious proximal side branch obstruction
  • Organise and become a CTO

Factors determining thrombus migration

The interaction between the hemodynamic  forces that push a thrombus distally and hemo-rheological factors that promote fresh proximal thrombus formation are poorly understood. The altered intra-coronary milieu with a fissured plaque covered by  platelet vs RBC / fibrin core,  totally of obstruction,  reperfusing forces , re-exposure of raw areas and  the distal vessel integrity all matters.

While, logic would tell us,  thrombus more often migrates  distally  assisted by the direction of blood flow, an  opposite concept also seeks attention , ie since the blood flow is sluggish  in the proximal (to obstruction site )more thrombus forms in segments proximal to obstruction.

(In fact, its presumed  in any acute massive proximal LAD STEMI , it takes hardly few minutes for the thrombus to  queue up proximaly and  clog the bifurcation and spill over to LCX or even reach left main and result in instant mechanical death.)

What is the significance of length and longitudinal resistance of the thrombotic segment in STEMI ?

If thrombus is the culprit let us get rid of it , this concept looks nice on paper , but still  we don’t  know why thrombus aspiration in STEMI is not consistently useful. We also know little about  the length of the thrombotic  segment .When a guide wire is passed over a STEMI ATO it may cross smoothly like  “cutting a slice of  butter” in some , while in few we struggle and  end up with severe no-reflow inspite of great efforts .Why ?

What is the Impact of distal collateral flow in flushing fresh thrombus ?

The efficacy of collateral flow in salvaging myocardium is underestimated. Distal vessel flow if perfused partially by acute collaterals the thrombus load is not only less it’s soft and fail to get organised early that would help cross the lesion easily.

medical education critics cardiology evdnce based medicine growth ethics

Mohandas Karam Chand Gandhi ,  father of my country , India , made these observations in year 1925  about the  fundamental constituents of  violence in society . These words of monumental wisdom came when he was  addressing young Indians in a country- side rally .

mahatma gandhi quotes medical science humanity

Note, his finger points to , what  exactly is relevant to our profession ! He emphasized this  nearly  100 years ago, when medical science was at its infancy .One can only guess what would be Mahatma’s comment about our profession in it’s  current form !

Should we include moral, behavioral and ethical classes  right from the first year of medical  school along with Anatomy , physiology and bio chemistry.Medical council of India obviously need to burn more mid night oil , I wish it happens in my life time. !

Here is a  video recipe  !

Please click here to  see more videos from my you tube site

Prosthetic valve implantation has revolutionized the management of  valvular heart disease . The original concept valve  was a ball in a cage valve  , still considered as a  fascinating discovery.  It was conceived by the young Dr Starr and made by Engineer Edwards  .This was followed   by long hours of arguments,  debates and  experiments that ran into many months . The  silent corridors of  Oregon hospital Portland USA remain the only witness  to their hard work and motivation.  At last,  it happened , the first human valve was implanted in the year 1960. Since then . . . for nearly  50 years these valves  have done a seminal  job for the mankind.

With the advent of  disc valve and bi-leaflet valve in the  later decades of 20th century , we had to say a reluctant good-bye to this valve.

There is a  lingering question among many of the current generation cardiologists and surgeons why this valve became extinct ?

Starr and Edwards with their child !

We in India , are witnessing these old warrior inside the heart functioning for more than 30 years.From my institute of Madras medical college  which probably has inserted more Starr Edwards valve than any other  during the 1970s and 80s by Prof . Sadasivan , Solomon victor , and Vasudevan and others .

It is still a mystery why this valve lost its popularity and ultimately died a premature death.The modern hemodynamic  men  working from a theoretical labs thought  this valve was  hemodynamically  inferior. These Inferior valves worked  like a  power horse  inside the hearts  the poor Indian laborers  for over 30 years.

A Starr Edwards valve rocking inside the heart in mitral position

The cage which gives  a radial support* mimic  sub valvular apparatus, which none of the other valves can provide.

* Mitral  apparatus has 5 major  components. Annulus, leaflets, chordae, pap muscle, LV free wall.None of the artificial valves has all these components.  Though , we would love to have all of them technically it is simply not possible.  The metal cage of Starr Edwards  valve partially satisfies this  , as  it acts as a virtual sub valvular apparatus.Even though the cage has no contact with LV free wall, the mechano hydrolic  transduction of  LV forces to the annulus  is possible .

Further , the good hemodyanmics of this valve indicate , the cage ensures co axial blood  flow  across the mitral inflow throughout diastole. .Unlike the bi-leaflet valve ,  where the direction of  blood flow is determined by the quantum of leaflet excursion  in every beat . In bileaflet valves  each leaflet has independent determinants of valve  motion . In Starr Edwards valve the ball is the leaflet . In contrast to bi-leaflet valve , the contact area  of the  ball and the blood in Starr Edwards  is a smooth affair  and  ball makes sure  the LV forces are equally transmitted to it’s surface .

The superiority of bi-leaflet valves and disc valves  (Over ball and cage ) were  never proven convincingly in a randomized fashion . The other factor which pulled down this valve’s popularity was the supposedly high profile nature of this valve. LVOT tend to get narrowed in few undersized hearts.  This  can not be an  excuse , as no consistent  efforts were made to miniaturize this valve which is  distinctly possible.

Sudden deaths from  Starr Edwards valve  .

  • Almost unheard in our population.
  • The major reason  for the long durability of this valve is due to the  lack of  any metallic moving points .
  • Absence of hinge  in this  valve  confers  a huge mechanical  advantage with  no stress points.
  • A globe / or a ball  has  the universal hemodynamic advantage. This shape makes it difficult for thrombotic focus to stick and grow.

Final message

Science is considered as sacred as our religion Patients believe in us. We believe in science. A  good  durable valve  was  dumped from this world  for no good reason. If commerce is the  the main issue ( as many still believe it to be ! )  history will never  forgive those people who were  behind the murder of this innocent device.

Cardiologists and Cardio thoracic surgeons are equally culpable  for the pre- mature exit of this valve from human domain.  Why didn’t they protest ?  We  can get some solace  ,  if  only we can impress upon  the current valve manufacturers  to  give a fresh lease of life to this valve .

http://www.heartlungcirc.org/article/S1443-9506%2810%2900076-4/abstract

It is often said life is a cycle , time machine rolls without rest and reach  the same  point  again and again . This is  applicable for the  knowledge cycle as well .

We  live a life ,  which is infact a  “fraction of a time”(<100years) when we consider the evolution of life in our planet for over 4 million years.

Man has survived and succumbed to various natural and  self inflicted diseases &  disasters. Currently,  in this  brief phase of life  , CAD is the major epidemic , that confronts  modern  man.It determines the ultimate  life expectancy . The fact that ,  CAD is a new age  disease   and  it was  not  this rampant ,   in our ancestors  is well known .The disease has evolved with man’s pursuit for knowledge and wealth.

A simple example of how the management of CAD over 50 years will  help assess the importance of  “Time in medical therapeutics”

  • 1960s: Life style modification and Medical therapy  is  the standard of care in all stable chronic  CAD The fact is medical and lifestyle management remained the only choice in this period as   other options were not available. (Absence of choice was  a blessing as we subsequently realised  ! read further )
  • The medical  world started looking for options to manage CAD.
  • 1970s : CABG was  a major innovation for limiting angina .
  • 1980s: Plain balloon angioplasty a revolution in the management of CAD.
  • 1990s: Stent scaffolding of    the coronaries  was  a great add on .Stent  was too  dangerous  for routine use  was to be used only in bail out situations
  • Mid 1990s : Stents  reduced restenosis. Stents are  the greatest revolution for CAD management.Avoiding stent in a PCI  is unethical , stents  should be liberally used. Every PCI should be followed by stent.
  • Stents have potential complication so a good luminal dilatation with stent like result (SLR)  was  preferred so that we can avoid stent related complications.
  • 2000s: Simple  bare metal stents are not enough .It also has significant restenosis.
  • 2002: BMS are too notorius for restenosis and may be dangerous to use
  • 2004 : Drug eluting stents are god’s gift to mankind.It eliminates restenosis by 100% .
  • 2006:  Drug eluting stents not only eliminates restenosis it eliminates many patients suddenly by subacute stent thrombosis
  • 2007 : The drug is not  the culprit in DES it is the non bio erodable polymer that causes stent thrombosis. Polymer free DES  or   biodegradable stent , for temporary scaffolding  of the coronary artery  (Poly lactic acid )  are likely to  be the standard of care .
  • All stents  are  potentially dangerous for the simple reason any metal within the coronary artery  has a potential for acute occlusion.In chronic CAD it is not at all necessary to open the occluded coronary arteries , unless  CAD is severely symptomatic in spite of best  medical therapy.
  • 2007: Medical management is superior to PCI  in most of the situations in chronic CAD  .(COURAGE study ) .Avoid PCI whenever possible.
  • 2009 :The fundamental principle of CAD management  remain unaltered. Life style modification,  regular  exercise ,  risk factor reduction, optimal doses of anti anginal drug, statins and aspirin  is the time tested recipe for effective management of CAD .

So the CAD  therapeutic  journey  found  it’s  true  destination  ,  where it started in 1960s.

Final message

Every new option of therapy must be tested  against every past option .There are other reverse cycles  in cardiology  that includes the  role of diuretics  in SHT , beta blockers in CHF etc. It is ironical , we are in the era  of rediscovering common sense with sophisticated research methodology .What our ancestors know centuries ago , is perceived to be great scientific breakthroughs . It takes  a  pan continental , triple  blinded  randomised trial   to prove physical activity is good  for the heart .(INTERHEART , MONICA  studies etc) .

Medical profession is bound to experience hard times in the decades to come ,  unless we  look back in time and “constantly scrutinize”  the so called  scientific breakthroughs and  look  for genuine treasures for a great future !

Common sense protects more humans than modern science and  it comes free of cost  too . . .

NSTEMI  constitutes a  very heterogeneous population .The cardiac   risk   can vary  between very low to very high .  In contrast ,  STEMI patients  carry  a high risk for  electro mechanical complication including   sudden death .They all need immediate treatment  either with  thrombolysis or PCI to open up the blood vessel  and salvage the myocardium.

The above concept , may  be true in   many situations  ,  but what we fail to recognize   is  that ,   STEMI   also  is  a heterogeneous clinico pathological  with varying risks and outcome !

Let us see briefly ,  why this  is very important  in the management of STEMI

Management of STEMI  has undergone great  change  over the past 50 years and  it is the standing example of evidence based coronary care in the modern era ! The mortality  ,  in the early era was around 30-40% . The advent of coronary care units, defibrillators, reduced the mortality to around 10-15%  in 1960 /70s . Early use of heparin , aspirin   further improved the outcome .The inhospital mortality  was greatly  reduced to a level of  7-8% in the thrombolytic  era. And ,  then  came the interventional approach, namely primary PCI ,  which is now considered the best form of reperfusion when done early by an experienced team.

Inspite of this wealth of evidence   for the   superiority  of PCI  , it is only a fraction of  STEMI patients get  primary PCI   even in some  of the  well equipped centers ( Could be as low as  15 %)

Why ? this paradox

Primary PCI   has   struggled  to establish itself  as a global  therapeutic concept  for STEMI ,   even after   20 years of it’s introduction (PAMI trial)  .  If we  attribute ,  lack of   infrastructure  , expertise are  responsible for this low utility of primary PCI , we are mistaken ! There are so many institutions , at least in developing world ,   reluctant to do primary PCI  for varied reasons.( Affordability , support system , odd hours ,and finally perceived fear of untoward complication !)

Primary PCI may be a great treatment modality , but it comes with a inherent risk related to the procedure.

In fact the early hazard could exceed the potential benefit in many of the low risk STEMI  patients !

All STEMI’s are not  same , so all does not require same treatment !

Common sense and logic would   tell us any medical condition should be risk stratified before applying the management protocol. This will enable  us to avoid applying “high risk  – high benefit”  treatments in low risk patients . It is a great surprise,  the cardiology community has extensively researched to risk stratify NSTEMI/UA   ,  it has  rarely  considered risk stratification of STEMI before  starting the treatment.

In this context , it should  be emphasized  most of the clinical trails on   primary PCI  do not address  the clinical  relevance and the  differential outcomes   in various  subsets of  STEMI .

Consider the following two cases.

Two young men with STEMI  , both present within  3  hours   after  onset of symptoms

  1. ST elevation in V1 -V6 , 1 , AVL   ,  Low blood pressure , with severe  chest pain.
  2. ST elevation in 2 ,3, AVF , hemodynamically stable , with minimal  or no  discomfort .

In the above example,   a  small inferior  MI by a distal RCA occlusion  ,  and a proximal LAD lesion jeopardising entire anterior wall , both  are  categorized as STEMI !

Do you want to advocate same treatment  for both ?  or Will you  risk stratify the STEMI and treat individually ?  (As we do in NSTEMI !)

Current guidelines , would  suggest PCI for both situations. But , logistic ,  and real world experience would clearly favor thrombolysis for the second patient .

Does that mean,  the second patient is getting an inferior modality of treatment ?

Not at all . In fact there is a strong case for PCI being inferior in these patients as the risk of the procedure may far outweigh the benefit especially if it is done on a  random basis  by  not so well experienced cath lab team.

(Note : Streptokinase  or TPA does not  vary it’s action ,  whether given by  an ambulance drive or a staff nurse or even a  cardiologist !  .In contrast ,  the infrastructure and expertise have the  greatest impact on the success and failure  of PCI )

Final message

So , it is argued the world cardiology societies(ACC/ESC etc)  need to risk stratify STEMI (Like we do in NSTEMI ) into low risk, intermediate risk and high risk categories and advice primary PCI only for high risk patients.

Heart is a dynamic organ, so any auscultation by default becomes dynamic. Still, what we mean by dynamic auscultation is, to look(hear) carefully at what happens to the sounds and murmurs during different phases of respiration*, posture and induced hemodynamic stress by altering preload, and afterload, etc. (* Some of us may not consider respiratory changes as part of dynamic auscultation, But, it is to be noted even spontaneous respiration is subtle dynamism and is reflected in JVP as well as second sound mobility. While forceful breath-holding or exhalation can dramatically shut down & release venous return from entering the thorax.This is the basis of the most popular maneuver of Valsalva.

I know, dynamic auscultation is a lost art. For fellows, the only issue that seems to bother is to understand the dynamic auscultation in various types of LVOT obstruction, MVPS , and to differentiate  aortic from pulmonary regurgitation murmurs, with or without VSD, RVOT/LVOT vascular /Valvular clicks etc

Here is an old presentation (2010) of mine from the archive.

One of the great resources on this topic is from Dr Delman. Hope this book is available. There is one more exclusive atlas by Delman & Stein dynamic auscultation with phonocardiographic and pulse correlation 

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The commonest cause* for repeated entry of right radial catheter to descending aorta is not due to any anomaly. Most times,it is just a skewed angle between right brachio-cephalic artery with Aortic arch, that deflects the catheter to the descending aorta . Just make sure, aortic root is entered with a deeply held inspiration.

*Anomalies of the aortic arch, aberrant right subclavian, Kommerell’s diverticulum, vascular ring must be kept in mind.

 

Postamble: A true abnormal course

Though, It might appear prudent to avoid the radial route when encountering anomalous subclavian arteries, the reality is different and adventurous. We have acquired great expertise and successful PTCAs have been done through these tortuous vascular highways.

This is a case report from Dr H.S. Isser, Gunjan Garg, from Safdarjung hospital New Delhi. 

A successful PTCA through arteria lusoria : The right subclavian connect to the descending aorta, distal to the left subclavian at the level of ductus arteriosus. and pass retrotracheal and retroesophageal before reaching right arm. Image source and courtesy: H.S. Isser, Gunjan Garg, Arteria lusoria: A challenge for transradial coronary interventionist, IHJ Cardiovascular Case Reports (CVCR), Volume 4, Issue 1, 2020,

 

One of the topics rarely discussed in heart failure is  CAD as a contributory factor in HFpEF.

This is a copy of the presentation done at the ECHO India Annual scientific meet  2019 at Kolkatta. India.

 

Will try to find out the recorded version with audio. Here is a GIF run through.

PDF version Download here

Embryology

Sinus venosus ASD (also referred to as SVC ASD)  is a defect in the failure of the sinoatrial orifice to lateralize completely to the right side during atrial septation.Left venous valve, as well as the septum secundum, fails to fuse with the roof of the atria creating interatrial communication. During this process, the developing pulmonary vein overshoot to the right side making PAPVD a mandatory add-on defect. (Harley ,Thorax 1958 ) It can be referred to as embryonal venous migration defect at the level of RA. In the same sense, it is not a true defect in IAS but a defect in septation between SVC/PV. It may also be referred to as unroofing of RUPV. The so-called Inter atrial communication actually is the confluence point of RUPV/SVC/RA.(See TEE images below) 

We know, in SVC ASD-commonest associated anomaly is PAPVC . It is not an ideal term to use though, instead, it is encouraged to use the term PAPVD (drainage) . Technically true PAPVC can not be connected to RA cavity as PV can connect either to cardinal or vitelline vein only. This distinction is helpful when we search for additional PAPVCs cranial to SVC. Sometimes we might recognize this error only after closure of SVC ASD. 

Should we close SVC ASD ? How do we close?

Age, natural history, symptoms, the quantum of shunt will answer an occasional troubling query , “should we close it at all? Surgery is the standard approach till now. What makes device closure popular? Two reasons 1.Patient /or parent’s fear of surgery  2.Cardiologist’s urge for innovative Interventional procedures. (The fact that a simple covered stent will do the job is too tempting to make an attempt) However,please note, the procedure is not at all simple as one would Imagine.

Anatomical prerequisite for device closure 

The defect must fulfill some critical anatomical essentials.  

  • It should be an isolated defect.
  • RA should not be grossly enlarged
  • Re-routing of RUPV to LA should be possible 
  • A significant circumference of RUPV should be committed to LA.
  • There should not be downward extension involving septum secundum making it an SVC + OS ASD 

Technical issues

  • Self-expanding vs balloon expanding stent (Anyone may be chosen)
  • Stent flare-up SVC RA junction crucial
  • Must ensure  RUPV doesn’t get compressed with device.

  • Forces that hold the SVC end of the stent is very important. Sometimes It may require a second proximal stent just to prevent migration of the first stent.
  • Live LA pressure and RUPV monitoring may be critical to recognize PV ostial compromise. For this, a transeptal puncture may be required (Ironically creating another mini ASD !)

 

Finally, and most importantly follow-up is mandatory with device closure since the stent is on the venous circuit as RA, SVC thrombosis expected. (Anticoagulation protocol not clearly  defined as of now )

Final message 

Device closure for SVC ASD is a good Innovation. A perfectly delivered covered stent at the RA/SVC junction will do the trick. However, In my  opinion, surgeons do a neat(More complete)  job It is time-tested. Single or double patch or warden procedure may be done.(Ref 2)

Reference 

1.Hinnerk Hansen, Phuoc Duong, Salim .M. Jivanji, A. Qureshi, Eric Rosenthal Transcatheter Correction of Superior Sinus Venosus Atrial Septal Defects as an Alternative to Surgical Treatment J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Mar, 75 (11) 1266-1278.

2.Warden HE, Gustafson RA, Tarnay TJ, Neal WA. An alternative method for repair of partial anomalous pulmonary venous connection to the superior vena cava. Ann Thorac Surg 1984;38:601-5. 

 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedneo.2019.06.013

 

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.03.113

Mitra clip is a small metal device that is delivered percutaneously, to clip the incompletely coapting (closing) mitral valve. It was first introduced to treat degenerative mitral regurgitation. It is an interventional imitation of the famous edge to edge Alfieri stitch repair.This procedure in fact converts the single mitral valve orifice into two. In the process, curtails the regurgitation jet orifice significantly. Though the technique looks nice and simple to hear, lots of per and post-procedure issues need refinement. Conceptually it is ideal in primary disorders of the mitral valve. (Read EVEREST 2 criteria for optimal patient selection)  There have been more than 60000 Mitra clips implanted worldwide wide. Thanks to Abbot.

In secondary MR (due to LV dysfunction) Mitra clip has shown mixed results( MITRA-FR not much benefit, COAPT -Did show benefits)

Now, what about Mitra clip as a remedy for rheumatic mitral regurgitation?

This is the question everyone likes to ask. Now we have some interesting breakthroughs. Dr. Ningyan Wong from the National University of Singapore reports probably the first case (Ref 1) . The videos are reproduced with the creative commons license.

 

Note the classical thickened AML in rheumatic mitral regurgitation.

 

 

TEE showing severe MR

 

Post Mitra clip : A real surprise to note near-total abolition of regurgitation. (This really is good news for the rheumatic mitral valves )

Technical issues

  • Should be isolated MR
  • P2/A2 scallop clipping is the key to success. 
  • The thickness of the leaflet limits the success (Grasping the leaflet will be difficult)
  • Clip Induced mitral stenosis is a distinct risk.

Potential role and future

RHD forms 90 % of valvular heart disease in a country like India. The incidence of Isolated MR in both acute rheumatic fever and chronic  RHD are substantial. If only we refine the hardware and technique to suit these thickened rheumatic valves, Mitra clip is expected to make an impact in this unique group of patients where surgery can be avoided or at least postponed

Though we would very much like to do such a trial in our place, logistics has effectively precluded it. I wish some large centers like AIIMS New Delhi or PGIMER Chandigarh and others can take this concept to the next level.  

 

Reference

1.Ningyan Wong, Peilin Cheryl Marise Tan, Zee Pin Ding, Khung Keong Yeo, Successful MitraClip for severe rheumatic mitral regurgitation: a case report, European Heart Journal – Case Reports, Volume 3, Issue 3, September 2019

Two queries that linger in the medical profession for a long. I am afraid they aren’t addressed specifically by the stakeholders.

Question 1 

Foe a moment, let us assume there is no option to answer all three are equally important. Medical colleges are supposedly Godly places where high-quality noble professionals would germinate, let into the community thereupon, to heal the ill and suffering. The teaching faculty has a huge responsibility. They must ensure that students are transformed into responsible caregivers in the first place. They should be made to understand that the knowledge they acquire has a short half-life and medical education is all about continuous learning and unlearning. Unless teaching and research are morally genuine and scientifically perfect, the things we do in the name of patient care is going to be redundant. Hope you got the answer right!

 

Question 2

Now that, we got the answer to the question 1, here is a more difficult question. 

Out of the four, only one addresses the skill and expertise. The rest of the three generally happen away from the bedside. The answer is strikingly clear I guess.

 

Postamble

I agree the answers to these queries can be extremely sensitive, and contentious for many of us. Little deeper lies the truth. Hope, the quote from the much-stigmatized father of modern medicine  “Primum non-nocere” will help find the answer. 

Just roll over the virtual marker along the coronary lesion to get the underlying flow ratio. Blue is an absolute normal segment. Green is ok, orange and red slow-moving coronary traffic jam zones. it’s just like drawing a google map showing life traffic. No wire, no adenosine FFR comes inbuilt in every angio shot. Looks great Isn’t it? This is called QFR. Quantitative flow ratio derived from routine coronary angiograms. It can also guide us to find the optimal sites of both proximal and distal stent landing zone in the best physiological manner.

Which company makes this ?

Any studies done with QFR ?

FAVOR 2 study was reported in TCT. This modality is expected to evolve.

Final message

Whenever possible every anatomical lesion in the coronary should be substantiated by physiological parameter and possibly coronary Imaging to know plaque morphology and vulnerability. Though it is wishful thinking, still for all logistic reasons, most of the real world stenting will be based only on the blind anatomical luminogram.

At this point, please let me utter a non-academic hyperbole. Even a casual query to your beloved patients about their true symptoms and exercise capacity shall make these ultra-modern coronary physiology studies redundant in many. A well-performed and well-interpreted stress test is a good, objective, non-invasive indicator of coronary flow across lesions. It is wise to keep this as a basic clinical foundation in the evaluation of CAD, even as we continue to learn and forget half evolved modalities with rapid expiry dates like FFR, IFR, CT-FFR. QFR shows some promise though. Please watch for next in line coronary physiology – OFR, Optical flow ratio from OCT run through.

Reference

Bicaval view is an Important TEE view to visualize, the LA, IAS, and right atrium. I used to have some trouble getting oriented to this view. Hence this post. It is obtained in the 90-120 degree view at the mid esophageal position. Imagine the patient is lying on his left side and the probe comes from above down between the spine and heart to the LA from within the esophagus. This is the best view to see IAS in the profile.(Subcostal TTE can also do it) Note how the LA hugs the right atrium which is actually an ill-defined (In TEE I mean) common meeting point of both IVC and SVC. Also important is the relationship of RUPV with SVC & the horizontally running RPA sitting right over the top of LA.

The relationship between RUPV and SVC is crucial in device closure of large ASD, especially in sinus venous defect.

Clinical Importance of this view

  • Very useful in ASD rim morphology especially in the posterosuperior rim.
  • Delineates clearly the defect boundaries in SVC ASD.

Sinus venosus defect: Image source not known. Thanks to the creator.

  • This view doesn’t miss even the smallest PFO (With Contrast )
  • Can be used to guide IAS puncture in structural heart Interventions.
  • IVC /SVC mass extension into RA well visualized.

RA myxoma attached to septum: Image source -Michael Essandoh from Research gate

Final message

Getting oriented to TEE  planes and images is so useful in structural heart interventions, like TAVRs, mitral clip, LAA occluder, tandem heart, valve in valves, etc. It is indeed a tough exercise and requires re-learning of cardiac anatomy with fluoroscopic overlay*.I wish, I go back and sit with first-year medical school students and start all over again.

*Current hybrid cath labs do provide Echo/Fluro co-registration, still it demands core 3D anatomical Imagination.