Archive for the ‘Cardiology Innovations’ Category

Coronary artery lumen has unique character . Its well-known  LAD diameter is not constant , it tapers in its distal course.(Unlike RCA which is more tubular ) It is estimated LAD looses 15 % of its diameter for every 30mm length.Fortunately LCX has no such long course to make tapering a visible threat. (Though it may still be an Issue !)

Is there a hemodyanmic purpose for this tapering in LAD ?

Should be, God never designs anatomy without a physiological purpose.We have to find it  out.(Can it be meant for  flow acceleration as the flow is entriely diastolic in LAD while in RCA its both in systole and diastole ?_

What is the relationship between tapering angle and final distal diameter?

Schematic of an artery with a tapered angle of 0:16 .Ref XIANG SHEN Journal of Mechanics in Medicine and Biology Vol. 16, No. 8 (2016)

So, if you have a long lesion in proximal LAD and planning to stent with a 40 mm or long  stent the distal end is hyperinflated by atleast 1.5mm, if we use a non tapered stent. Though , gain of extra  diameter  in distal segments might appear attractive, this may not work to our advantage , since it defies and distorts  the natural hemodynamic flow pattern. Further , when you have tapering vessel, proximal optimisation becomes more important.

How about a tapering coronary stent ?

It should be a welcome addition to our already overflowing coronary hardware in fixing long lesions . Its still a surprise why only very few are making this type of stent.

Meril has developed a  tapered stent up to 60 mm long  (Biomime morph).It should be useful in specific lesions sub types.Its worthwhile to note  tapering stents are used more often in carotid artery .

Advantages of long tapering stent over two stents of different sizes.

  • It avoid the vulnerable overlapping zone with double metallic load.
  • Possibly cause less restenosis
  • Low risk for stent fracture
  • It reduces procedure time and of course the cost of stent by 50 %

Why the concept of Tapered stent is not that popular ?

I can only guess, probably lack of free availability and  to a certian extent ignorance as well !  However ,current status about tapering stents is expected to evolve, though many cardiologist still  feel it’s not clinicaly important issue to use a tubular stent in tapering vessel.

Alternative  interventions in tapered vessel.

  • Wall stent and other self expendable stents
  • Tapered balloon Angioplasty (Laird Am Journal of card 1996)

Experts  in this modality are  welcome to share their experience.


1.Zubaid MC, Buller C, Mancini GB. “Normal angiographic tapering of the coronary arteries”. Can J Cardiol 2002; 18: 973-980

2.Timmins LH, Meyer CA, Moreno MR, Moore JE Jr. “Mechanical modeling of stents deployed in tapered arteries”. Ann Biomed Eng 2008; 36: 2042-2050

3.Javier SP, Mintz GS, Popma JJ, Pichard AD, Kent KM, Satler LF, Leon MB. “Intravascular ultrasound assessment of the magnitude and mechanism of coronary artery and lumen tapering”. Am J Cardiol 1995; 75: 177-180

4.Laird JR, Popma JJ, Knopf WD, Yakubov S, Satler L, White H, Bergelson B, Hennecken J, Lewis S, Parks JM, Holmes DR. “Angiographic and procedural outcome after coronary angioplasty in high-risk subsets using a decremental diameter (tapered) balloon catheter. Tapered Balloon Registry Investigators”. Am J Cardiol 1996; 77: 561-568


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Many decades ago Potts  shunt  (Central Aortic -PA shunt)was used to increase pulmonary blood flow for severe RVOT obstruction mostly for TOF  and tricuspid atresia .With the advent of  ICR and  Fontan role for central aorti shunts waned.

Now, read this

Chronic ,refractory pulmonary hypertension of any cause has dismal  outcome.In  patients with severe PAH  many patients  reach supra-systemic pressures . RV   a volume handling chamber faces a uphill task of overcoming huge RV after load. As cardiac physicians , we  struggle  to  perfuse the lungs in such situations.

The only option  seems to be  lung transplantation !

How to perfuse the lungs if the RV is failing ?

Is there any other alternative ?

Why not,use LV contractility  to perfuse lungs .

Great Idea isn’t ? After all , how can we allow left ventricle known for it’s  robust bumping function  sit idle and relax  when it’s counterpart is struggling with heavy load ?

How to use LV for increasing pulmonary blood flow ?

Create a central Aortic -Pulmonary shunt.

That’s resurgence of Potts shunt.

Dr Julie Blanc from France suggested this approach in in NEJM as a letter  (Potts Shunt in Patients with Pulmonary Hypertension N Engl J Med 2004; 350:623) .  It  was a great Idea.

Since then lots of patients  have a benefited from this vintage surgery.

potts shunt in severe pulmonary hypertension

Final message

A surgery blamed for early onset of pulmonary vascular damage due to potential Eisenmenger reaction is back .Indication for refractory Eisenmenger syndrome to perfuse lungs  at very high pressure Nothing is obsolete in medical science .Nothing is ironical as well !

Another Innovation : Now Transcatheter Potts Surgery

potts shunt for eisenmenger and severe pulmonary arterial  pht pah

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Few Innovations are real breakthroughs in cardiology . Here is an imminent technology waiting to explode in the  permanent pacing . Expected to hit market next year (2014 in Europe ) FDA approves clinical studies .


Click over for the animation video  of the procedure .

  • The wireless pacemaker has many advantages. (It’s devoid of all those pocket and wire related issues.)
  • The ability to change batteries is  a  going to be a  new paradigm shift in the filed of electro physiology. .
  • Down side would be,  right now it can be only VVI pacing . All that hype about    physiological pacing  will go to the background !

Future directions in Permanent pacing.

The only threat for this technology is the  concept of biological pacemaker Converting ordinary myocytes into  pacing cells by genetic engineering.This is expected to happen within few decades.

biological pacemaker

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Pacemaker lead implantation is basically a blind procedure .We are supposed to pace the RV apex . It is akin to anchor a ship in the sea bed. Screwing leads are preferred in permanent pacing  ,but tined leads have few unique advantages as well .

Can we combine the advantage of both ?

pacemaker lead in rv apex anchoring how to

It is believed displacements are more common with tined leads . May be yes . . . or  is it really so ?

It is not the tines  or screws that is going to  determine the early displacement , rather ,  it is the expertise , commitment and the time spent during the implantation that matters . I have witnessed equal number of  early lead dislodgement in both .

One issue often goes unreported is that , when screwing lead is used operator is subconsciously complacent.While cardiologists who implant  tined lead is more cautious , make sure it is well trapped in RV.

Screwing leads.

  • Screwing leads should not be positioned in the same place as tine leads.
  • This is because , RV apex is rich in trabeculae. Screws can enter one of the trabeculae or it may even enter  inter  trabecular  space. or poke  thin trabeculae which may  break in near future.(Realise ,how blind we are !)
  • Screwing  should be done in area where there is least  trabeculae  ideally in  lower end of septum. Since we do it blindly , we can’t be sure where exactly we have screwed .
  • Please note , pacing parameters are less  reliable than anatomy One may get surprisingly good pacing threshold even in trabecular pacing.
  • RV non apical pacing is possible only with screwing leads . However , the superiority of RVOT, para hisian pacing is yet to established in patients with normal LV function (Note  90 % of individuals who require PPM have normal LV function )

Tined leads

  • In contrary,tined leads are best placed where there is dense trabeculae.
  • It is natural entrapment.
  • The expertise of screwing  in a best place of RV is not required.
  • Whether screwing  predispose   to septal perforations in long term follow up is not known. Logic would suggest it may  !  (The Initial of few mm  of IVS tunneling  is done by us ! )
  • Diaphragmatic twtiching is more common with screwing leads.
  • Explantation  issues  is similar in both .

What does experienced cardiologists say ?

Cardiologists before the era of EPs were using  only tined leads  without any major hitch . I know electrophysiologists rarely use tined leads now . In our institute ,  with a  cumulative experience of over 3000  pacemakers  over 30 years( 99% are with tined leads ) , we  have no reason to believe they are vastly superior technique.

However there are few definite Indication for screwing lead

  • Abnormal RV anatomy
  • Loss of RV trabeculae
  • Marked Tricuspid regurgitation
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Second lead in RV
  • LTGV

* Note all atrial based pacing are screw based as atria lack trabeculae.

A suggestion

pacemaker lead in rv apex anchoring how to tined vs screwing lead   003

Final message

I would believe ,there is no major difference in both short and long term outcome between these two system of leads.Each has it’s own advantage.

After thought

Why can’t  we accrue  the benefits of both ? I think we have good scientific reason to request the pacemaker industry   to  design  a lead which  can have both tines and screws to  provide  double safety .Simple isn’t ?

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