Archive for the ‘cardiology -Therapeutics’ Category

How many times you have treated cardiac arrhythmia in both emergency & non-emergency situations?

Infinite times.

How many times did you really bother to know the mechanism of a given arrhythmia before ordering medication or shocking?

Hmm,.. let me think. (Except for AVNRT/ AVRT, and few VTs, very rarely I have worried about the mechanism  !)

Why is it so? because treatment takes priority and we are able to tame the arrhythmia even without knowing the real mechanism.

The following slide is a gross summary of the cardiac arrhythmia mechanism

Understanding cardiac arrhythmia is vitally important for a few reasons in a few settings.

  • In acute settings, we need to know automatic tachycardias will not respond to shocks. Reentry tachycardias will respond more promptly. (Of course, we may not know it till we shock ) Calcium blockers like verapamil might block triggered activity in MAT. Overdrive pacing is the answer for many automatic tachycardias and some refractory reentrant tachycardias (ATP protocols in ICD has taught us this ) 
  • In the chronic setting when you contemplate mapping, locating, and ablating arrhythmias, mechanisms are important. The task here is locating slow conduction paths and decoding the diastolic circuit around the scar  (If you plan ICD, knowledge about mechanism  becomes redundant again)

  • Finally, knowing the mechanism of arrhythmia is a fascination by itself to help understand the great subject called cardiac electrophysiology, where 100s of ion channels work nonstop drawing the action potential on a moment to moment basis sustaining our life.

A challenge

Can you localize a VT and find the mechanism in a patient who is Ischemic /hypoxic and acidotic? You can never do it. Please note, most polymorphic VTs can’t be localized. The mechanism is either automaticity, trigger activity, or even micro-reentry. You need to shock and look for the causes.(Link to How does the treatment of monomorphic VT differ from Polymorphic VT? )

Final message

Should we need to know about the mechanism of arrhythmia we treat?  Definitely yes, if you have that passion to know the truth, or else just order Amiodarone or shock and check out of CCU. (Of course, we have a very good option of calling EP consult the next day.)

 A review article on mechannism of cardiac arrhymias

Rev Esp Cardiol. 2012;65(2):174–185

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           Practice of cardiology is simple as long we don’t dwell deep into coronary physiology.

One of my patients asked, why he was told his total occlusion in LAD appears safer now, which was subtotal a few months ago.I told him, it is indeed true. It is the fear of subtotal disease that’s prone to a fresh coronary event. In total occlusion, chances of that happening are less or nil.


How can you say 100% block is safe?  Is that always true?

No, it’s not always true. He was surprised when I said it is not 100 %, even 90% lesion can be safe if it’s not causing significant angina and responding to OMT. Of course, It is the morphology and stability of the lesion that will dictate* the outcome in the subtotal occlusion. If the lesion is stable, FFR is good >.8 (TMT is poor man’s FFR equivalent )  you can leave it as it is. Doing OCT /Virtual histology /NIR spectroscopy to define the vulnerability of plaque is neither practical nor desirable (Extreme academics is injurious to health) 

So it is not the degree of the block that’s going to matter, but the effects of that block on distal circulation that will decide the rules of the myocardial revascularisation game. But unfortunately, both you, (the patients) we (the cardiologist) are finding it so difficult to come to terms with this basic truth in spite of multiple guidelines. 


Meanwhile, CTO however makes it much easier to make a decision. One need not bother the content of CTO unless you plan an Intervention. I guess there is no FFR for CTO. Are we aware of any studies that have quantified antegrade flow across a 10% patent LAD and compare it with the Collateral flow in LAD in 100% CTO?

We have long glorified a concept of the open artery hypothesis. (Mainly in Post STEMI though) No one has dared to test and compare a hypothesis that a closed artery might still score over the open in at least some of the subsets of stable CAD. Such a study can never be ethically forbidden after all its a well-observed truth in the real world. 


Trials on CTO  revascularisation DECISION CT (Not useful )   EURO-CTO  (May be useful) 




EURO CTO https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/eurheartj/ehy220/4990878?redirectedFrom=fulltext

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This post was originally written in 2013.

A middle-aged man with STEMI  came to our CCU.  It is just another case of STEMI and asked my fellow to lyse.

Anterior STEM ecg

But it was not the case . He, told me, Sir, the patient had a syncope following chest pain and he has injured his face and Jaw. He was actively bleeding. When I saw this face, it was indeed  frightening.Strptokinase induced bleeding

What shall we do ? When a patient  with STEMI presents with bleeding facial Injury

  1. Rush for Immediate PCI (Which was  of course not possible in our place as it happened out of office hours! )
  2. Take that ultimate risk and thrombolysis
  3. Give only heparin ( Many times it is as good as  lysis )

We took a (bold ? ) decision to thrombolyse with streptokinase.(After  a CT scan which ruled out any Intracranial bleed like hematoma etc) Clopidogrel was also given.

absolute contrindication for thrombolysis facial trauma

Patient continued to bleed in the initial 3 hours and was oozing in the next 12 hours. Blood transfusion was contemplated, but it was not required. Dental surgeon opinion was sought, his teeth were pulled and a compressive bandage was applied.It arrested the bleeding.The ECG settled down.LV function was almost normal with minimal wall motion defect. He is posted for a coronary angiogram later.

Final message

 There may not be anything called “Absolute contraindication” everything appears relative

I presented this in the weekly clinical meet,  with a tag line of  How to save a patient, apparently by violating a standard guideline. Not surprisingly, It evoked laughter amusement from learned physicians. I wasn’t. Guidelines are meant to guide us agreed.They can not command us. They are not legally binding documents as well! Many lives can be saved if only we have the courage to overrule when it’s required.


Had this patient has bled to death during lysis what would have happened to the treating doctor? (or )If the patient has died due to MI, because of deferred thrombolysis, what would be the line of argument?

2020 update.

This case scenario is a non-issue as of today. With so much experience, we straight away do PCI . Just manage the oral bleeding if any.


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The Country of mine with 140 crore population, is under complete lockdown mode. We are anxiously tense in one aspect, but enjoying the free time due to the peculiar “Corona effect” on cardiac emergencies.

Unable to understand you . . . please go away

What happened to our 24/7 busy CCU ? Does it happen only in my hospital? Can’t be. Let me check it right now. I called my fellow, who has since become a leading cardiologist in the nearby town.


I have since called many of my close contacts. In both Government and private hospitals. The pooled data were analyzed in a virtual cloud memory. I am fairly convinced, our observation was indeed true.

The following can be considered as near facts.

  • There have been at least 50% minimum dip of Overall ACS cases. It even went down to 80%reduction in a few places
  • Even UA/NSTEMI showed a significant drop.
  • There was general hesitancy to do primary PCI even if it’s technically Indicated.
  • All most all STEMI were lysed. Heparin was liberally used.
  • Many patients preferred telephonic consultations.ECGs were reported over mobile platforms
  • None of the back pains & gastric pains were admitted as atypical chest pain.
  • Most cardiologists closed down their regular OPD
  • For the first time, Govt institutions were considered worthy to refer.

Why ACS Incidence nose dived?

  1. Under recognition?
  2. Under-reported ?
  3. Low Incidence?
  4. Low rate of referral?

STEMI that goes under-recognized and unreported? The consensus was, it’s less important factor as currently, very few are unaware of the Importance of chest pain and widespread availability of emergency services 108/911

Does that mean real incidence has Indeed come down?

The global atherosclerotic burden,(the substrate for STEMI) in the society is nearly constant. Still, the incidence of ACS has declined dramatically in the lockdown period. This conveys an important message and compels a search (research)

The plaques that are waiting to rupture in the population somehow getting a reprieve. Mind you, the presence of a risky plaque in LAD alone won’t cause a STEMI. It needs a trigger. The day to day physical stress, spikes of catecholamine, emotional swings, traffic pollution etc. The only plausible explanation appears to be the vulnerable patients along with their plaques are also locked up inside its Intimo-medial home. (Armchairs and bed rests can not only treat STEMI , they can prevent it too !)

Why the incidence of NSTEMI /UA has also come down?

Again, the same factors might operate. But, more likely self-stabilizing pseudo / Low-risk ACS is a distinct possibility.

A significant chunk of UA /?CSA/suspected NSTEMI patients come from referrals by GPs.The biggest pool of cases for cath labs comes from this group of noncardiac/Atypical chest pain syndromes*. Which shows some Incidental (In)significant lesions that subsequently becomes a cardiac emergency.

Since they have reduced their consultations the numbers have quite significantly reduced.

*Chronic CAD masquerading as ACS is not a forbidden concept

Final message

We are taught some important lifetime lessons in cardiac practice by this 20 nm, lifeless RNA particles.

1. The bulk of the ACS in the society is triggered by the day to day stress of the fast and furious “Just do it” world. The mitigating effect of social lockdown on physical and emotional stress on plaque dynamics on the incidence of ACS will be a big research subject in the coming months.

2. More importantly, It has exposed the existence of one more hidden epidemic in the community “manufactured coronary emergencies” propagated by a resistant cardio tropic virus that has disseminated deep into evidence-based cardiology. Let us cleanse this virus too after finishing off the Corona.


It’s just a crazy opinion from a scribbling, blogger. However, I am sure, It’s only a matter of time, great journals like NEJM, JAMA, and Lancet will be screaming the same truths in a more palatable evidence-based manner.

Meanwhile, I can see early signs of restlessness(withdrawal) among us waiting for early release from the lock-up and resume the customary mode of evidence-based cardiology practice.

As I complete this write up . . . .surprised to find this report from TCT MD. Similarities if found, could only be coincidental.

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Pericardial effusion is often detected in patients with Infective endocarditis. Incidence can be as high as 25% . Most often it is mild, can be moderate in few.


  1. Sympathetic effusion in response to endocardial infection. It’s never more than minimal. (Evidence ? it’s only an assumption)
  2. IE related cardiac failure (Raised systemic venous pressure to which pericardial veins drain)
  3. Local sepsis, Abcess formation tracks to pericardial space through transmural lymphatics
  4. Fungal , granulomatous , Tuberculous IE (Rare) Here IE and PE  share the same pathology
  5. Part of systemic sepsis activated Immune mechanism (Polyseroists)
  6. Renal Involvement of IE-Renal failure
  7. Postoperative pericardial effusion in Prosthetic valve IE (Common, often loculated)

Clinical Implication

  • If the pericardial effusion is more than mild, it often denotes worse outcome. This implies more extensive infection or a marker of extracardiac causes of effusion like renal dysfunction.
  • Effusion may predispose to local dissemination of infection and ends up as peri-annular abscess is whether it is a cause or effect of effusion remains to be understood.It is often exudate as one would expect, but transudative  effusions also occur and would indicate more benign course.
  • The sterility of pericardial fluid has not been proven. Culture studies are rarely done from effusions associated with IE.
  • Pericardial effusions appear more often seen in IE of right heart valves. They turn out to be  IV drug abusers.
  • Contained rupture of an abscess needs to be differentiated from effusion

Can we give steroids for PE associated with IE?

Steroids can rapidly plug the inflammatory pores in the from the pericardial surface.It may also prevent future constriction. Currently, routine steroid therapy is not advised in infective pathology . If the infection is confirmed and is being taken care of by antimicrobial therapy there could be a role for steroids with user discretion.

Final message

During the echocardiographic evaluation of IE, the presence of pericardial effusion should be specifically looked for. These patients should be flagged and will require monitoring as the prognosis of PE complicating IE is a concern unless proved benign.


Two studies one from Spain and other from Egypt looked into this issue specifically.


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Catheter based interventions in TOF  has caught the imagination of  Interventional cardiologists.decades ago. (Quereshi reported first in 1988 Royal Liverpool hospital ) .Somehow it could not develop into a full-fledged modality. The key issue in TOF  is,  RVOT obstruction is infundibular with some degree of valvular involvement. While the valvular component is amenable for easy correction by balloon, the infundibular stenosis requires some form of cutting or splitting. Embryologically,  the malalignment of IVS is the primary mechanism of obstruction. The balloon catheter is will find it difficult to tackle the alignment defect. .Obviously, surgeons can do a comprehensive RVOT reconstruction.

Things are beginning to change. Cutting balloons are available. Various dedicated VSD devices are being developed. Closure of large sub-aortic VSD  followed by  RVOT dilatation appears challenging task but distinctly possible in the near future.

Few cases of palliative RVOT dilatation with a balloon  in critical TOF  is been attempted We hope, in the coming decades at least simple forms of TOF are conquered by the interventional cardiologists!

Hardware: A small profile  coronary  cutting balloon  from Boston scientific .

What is in store for the future ?

3D printing of live heart and designer device or deployable patches for the malaligned VSD is possible. Currently, intracardiac ultrasound would assist the procedure.

RVOT reconstruction with RVOT stenting and percutaneous valves (Melody or Right sided TAVR equivalents) is already been done in post-ICR residual obstructions or late RVOT failure

Coronary cutting balloon flextome tof pulmonary valvuloplasty coronary hard ware

Flextome -Coronary cutting balloon

Balloon pulmonary valvotomy for tof tetrology of fallot

balloon angioplasty for TOF cutting balloon

pulmonary valvotomy in tof tetrology

pulmonary valvotomy in tof tetrology 3

 Other References

1.Boucek MM, Webster HE, Orsmond GS, Ruttenberg HD. Balloon pulmonary valvotomy: palliation for cyanotic heart disease. Am Heart J. 1988;115:318-322.

2.Qureschi SA, Kirk CR, Lamb RK, Arnold R, Wilkinson JL. Balloon dilatation of the pulmonary valve in the first year of life in patients with tetralogy of Fallot: a preliminary study. Br Heart J. 1988; 60:232-235.

 3.Parsons JM, Ladusans EJ, Qureshi SA. Growth of the pulmonary artery after neonatal balloon dilatation of the right ventricular outflow tract in an infant with tetralogy of Fallot and atrioventricular septal defect. Br Heart J. 1989;62:65-68.

4.De Geeter P, Weisburd P, Dillenseger P, Willard D. Valvuloplastie pulmonaire percutanée palliative dans les formes néonatales de tétralogie de Fallot. Arch Fr Pediatr. 1989;46:117-119.

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 When half a dozen guidelines from extremely evidence based “Esteemed cardiac societies”  decide to confront an Incomprehensive cardiologist , there is no other way , but to create  a personalised i-Guidelines on STEMI !



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Conquering  left main disease is considered as crowning glory for the Interventional cardiologists. For over three decades , CABG has remained the undisputed modality which is being challenged  today. Fortunately, the Incidence of true isolated  left main disease is  low .(If Medina bifurcation subset is excluded)


left main

With growing expertise , advanced hardware and Imaging ( like a 360 degree OCT fly through view ) one can virtually sit inside the left main and complete a PCI .

Still , coronary care is much . . . much  . . . more than a technology in transit !

Most importantly, these complex PCIs require rigorous maintenance protocol  with meticulous platelet knockout drugs , patient compliance and the genetic fate of drug efficacy . (Clopidogrel has since entered the final laps of inefficiency while Ticagrelor has some more time I guess !)

What is the current thinking  about  unprotected left main PCI ? Let us know it from real life experts !

For those answered , yes to  the above question please leave this page , as the following question might  trouble you much !

While competent surgeons are waiting to tackle left main by surgical means ,there are many centers which are Inclined towards  PCI though we lack long-term outcome (At least 10 years like CABG )

Why do you think this is happening ? Are you ready for another crooked poll ?!  

What exactly is left main disease ?

Some of  us also suffer from a knowledge gap and tend to think  Bifurcation lesions  and left main disease are two distinct entities .The fact of the matter is , significant subset of bifurcation lesions are Indeed either left main equivalents or true left mains ( Medina 1,1,1 would constitute > 50 % all  bifurc lesions )  If you include Invisible left main lesions in Medina ( 0,1,1 or 0,0,1 ) detected by IVUS/OCT  it might reach easily cross 90% (Scientific guess !)  Does that mean we have to think CABG even for all complex bifurcation lesions ? and reserve left main disease for isolated discrete mid shaft or ostial left main ?

Final message 

My observation (Sincere to my limited conscience !) at least in this part of the world is : Left main Interventions are  “perceived as pride” and its more related to “show of expertise” and is little to do with patient outcome.Unfortunately , cardiologists should not be blamed for it in isolation as the studies they follow are conflicted.

Forget SYNTAX/PRECOMBAT trials, the two famous studies EXCEL (Favor PCI) and NOBLE were published in 2016 made our life tough .One suggested PCI is acceptable /on par with CABG, while the  other one put CABG superior , ensuring clarity  replaced with confusion ! When we have a dispute , logic would suggest we should fall back on the status quo ie “CABG is superior” unless proved convincingly. Many sections of cardiology society failed to appreciate this.

Post PCI thoughts

*It may not be that hard to do a complex PCI . But, it’s never easier to understand current cardiology literature that is supposed to raise our intellect , which has a direct relevance to patient welfare. Note, many crucial , high stake studies  tend to play academic deceit games  with  linguistic and statistical hyperboles like Non Inferior , likely superiority , Never inferior , near equipoise , regression of hazards, virtual follow-up in  real vs trial world etc , etc !

I can only hope for a better scientific world !


  1. Which is the best option for left main disease PCI or CABG ?  Journal of Individual wisdom and evidence based conscience : Volume 1 Chapter 1- Coronary Intellect : Pages 0 to ∞ Jan 2018.

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We know, The Mysterious Alibaba cave opens  with a voice password . . . legend  tell us it had unlimited hidden treasures. It would appear , CTOs mimic the cave in several ways. What is inside ? Should we open it ?  Can we come out safely ? Do we have any magical password in cath lab to get across the complex tissue boulders ?,   every cardiologist would love to have one !

chronic total occlusion alibaba cave corsair fileder xt pronova guideliner micro catheter asahi cart reverese cart cross boss sting ray

Dear CTO,Open Sesame . . . I have come with all the wires you love !  Please let me in !


“CTOs are never an emergency  . . .but please realise  we can very easily create one  while resuscitating a dead snake  ! 

Don’t think hard on evidence , then , you may not do a single case of CTO in your life .Forget all those pessimistic trials like OAT,COAT, etc and the recent ones DECISION-CTO. Ignore all guidelines. Ask your patient, and his insurance company , if they are willing , reserve the cath lab and get ready.

Pre-procedure  planning

Spend at least a hour to analyse the CTO Imagery one day prior and create n action plan.

Keep knowledgeable staff for assisting , but never ask for fellow colleagues help because it hurts our ego !  Cardiac surgeon’s back up is a welcome addition even if it’s on paper.

If possible , try to ask the patient genuinely ,what is his symptom at least once !  before starting the procedure. 

Timing of the procedure.

Don’t post a CTO patient  either on a busy Monday morning  or lazy Friday afternoon.

Hardware Inventory

The wires ,catheters, the balloons form the essential tool box .There is more than a  handful of coronary automobile companies manufacture this .It is all about metallurgy , knowledge of wires, catheters , and tip thickness, (Bullet shaped as in Asahi ) , slipping , hydrophophic or philic,  polymer coating , trackability, pushability , memory etc etc.

Guide wire tip morphology is as Important as the  Lesion characteristics !

Analysis of the lesion (Probably most important)

Unlike conventional PCI we have no initial target.We need to poke first and find the target next ! Distal vessel status  is most important ( Careful review of retrograde filling  through collaterals could give more information than CT angiograms .Calcification, diffuse disease can be a real hurdle)

Lesion morphology

Softness of lesion has to be felt (Requires good wire which has sensor (Paccinian corpuscles and Merckle disc ideal ?) I guess the cortical tactile feel is as vital as the  intervention expertise .I know at least one diabetic colleague of mine who finds it difficult  to cross a CTO  and admits he never found it easy to feel  the lesion through the wires . Autonomic dysfunction ?)

Operator  expertise

(Note: These are like reading  swimming guidelines , you can’t learn in the shores reading books ! you have to plunge !)

Many techniques are proposed .Sequential approach (Ironically experts are licensed to use  specialized wired wires directly .Beginners  are advised to go with non specialized hardware and escalate step by step) Some centers are blessed with new age weapons like cross Boss and sting ray that confront the lesions in multiple frontiers. (Carpet bombing?)

CTO playground. : Its essentially a coronary contact sport with expert septal surfing , tunnelling, knuckling , kneeling , bending . Of course , It  can end up in a gratifying win in few , still most of us tend to play this game without a goal (post !) Source of the Image : Unknown Due credits to the creator.

They are basically about poking the head of the lesion and trying to cross an occluded vessel  millimeter  by mm towards the presumed distal vessel in an Imaginary trajectory. Proximal cap, central core ,the blind tunnel , distal capsule and exit points each must be successfully conquered.

CTO crossing is  the ultimate capacity of the operator to realise and feel the position of the wires in true lumen and their confidence levels in their conviction!

Multiple wires up to three are used some times to poke the lesion two of them are used to shut the false tracks and the other one is expected to enter the true lumen (Looks too good on theory !) . These are referred to in as many terms like parallel wire see-saw , CART ,Reverse CART etc .Retrograde techniques do help us but has no magic solutions.The lumen contrast , guide wire tip movement and its  side branch entry  would help.

Tacking complication :Always anticipate , it’s not negative mind set to look for it  !

Keep pericardiocentesis kit , covered stents , micro  snares and other retrieval devices ready in cart. Your support staff should be well versed with what is happening around them. Some of  the dye leaks and stains are safe .They imply minor perforations that form  sealed hematomas  (The plane of perforations also matters. myocardial (ab-pericardial ) leaks are well tolerated .Distal perforations are also safe as long as CTO is not opened ) Online echocardiography should be readily available to monitor  pericardial space leak.

When bleed into pericardial space is life threatening , A comical, but life saving option is to close the artery and restore the CTO  its original state and come out of the lab quietly ! 

Newer Imaging guidance : Can be useful , still may not matter much  when considering the interventional acumen .

CTO PCI : Time as therapeutic end point.

CTO is not an endless game with out time frame .In my opinion it shouldn’t cross 45 minutes each as in a  soccer  game with a brief  strategic time out and of course with liberal use of ,yellow and red cards

Future directions

Japanese are the ones who pioneered  CTO Interventions . We expect more Innovations ! Is it the forward looking IVUS ? It is akin to tunneling for underground metro train with GPS guiding .If you can mark the proximal and distal  points , rest will be be taken care by mortised self tunneling catheters from Robotic arms steered by sophisticated algorithms.

Final  message

CTO PCI remains a real Interventional challenge. We are often double blinded  in both directions (antegrade as well as retrograde ). Needs much effort ,time, hardware and most importantly a non fatigued mind and body. The benefits we get may vary  between  gratifying to outright mediocre .Of course , it surely satisfies operator ego and express pride and courage !

Is crossing and stenting  a CTO  synonymous with true success ?

Yes it is , for the cardiologist and  the hospital  . . . I’m not sure about it for the patient !

In this  sense , CTOs  mimic the mysterious Alibaba cave that tempts us with Imaginary treasures but can trap us with a wrong password !


* Who should CTO PCI  ?

I have seen  young , enthusiastic cardiologists with Immature support staff attempting CTO in remote sub- urban settings ! Though patience and expertise are essential ingredients, some amount of organised training and hardwares make CTO PCI safe and effective. Enthusiasm and affordability alone can’t be an Indication for this complex set of coronary lesions.



I still wonder why  this vital paper was never published , it was just presented in the Annual ACC conference March 2017



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Cardiologists at confused cross roads !

Perils of  limited Intellect & Infinite greed  

When not so appropriately trained cardiologists  do Inappropriate things “use becomes misuse” . . . then, it won’t take much time for science to become total abuse. That’s what happened with the murky world of coronary stents .No surprise, it’s time to firefight the healers instead of the disease !

Now ,Comes the ORBITA study . Yes , it looks like a God sent path breaking trial that spits some harsh truths not only in cardiology, but also in behavioral ethics .Let us not work over time and hunt for any non-existing loop holes in ORBITA. Even if it has few, it can be condoned for sure as we have essentially lived out of flawed science  for too long  Injuring many Innocent hearts !

ORBITA pci vs medical mangement drsvenkatesan courage bari2d ethics in stenting auc criteria inappropriate coronary stenting placebo effect of stenting acc aha esc guidelines chronic st

Yes , its enforced premature funeral  times for a wonderful technology !

GIF Image courtesy http://www.tenor.com

Meanwhile, let us pray for a selective resurrection of  stenting in chronic coronary syndromes  and stop behaving like lesser professionals !


Extremely  sorry . . . to  all those discerning academic folks , who are looking for a true scientific review of ORBITA , please look elsewhere !

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