Dr. Sunil Rao and Durham VA Medical Center, First in care
The Durham VA Medical Center began using a new procedure last week that put it at the forefront of other VA medical centers across the nation. The Cardiac Cath Lab at the Durham VA was the first VA hospital in the nation to obtain and use the Diamondback Orbital Atherectomy, a thin device that is used to open blockages in the heart’s arteries.
Dr. Sunil Rao, director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at the Durham VAMC, said the procedure can open blockages that are unable to be opened using conventional balloon angioplasty. The device, which was approved by the FDA last October, is inserted in the artery and rotates in an orbital fashion to break up calcium deposits that are as hard as rocks.
Since early March, the Durham VAMC has used the procedure four times with great results.“It has worked extremely well,” said Rao. “It allows us to deliver stents into coronary arteries much more easily.”While balloons and stents are the usual treatment for unblocking the main arteries that supply the heart, Rao said this new procedure is more effective for the types of patients he sees at the VA.“Given the age and other medical conditions our Veterans have, the blockages that we see in their coronary arteries are often very heavily calcified,” Rao said. “Our regular balloons and stents don’t often work in this setting so we need something to help us treat these patients and help them get more blood flow to their hearts.”This new procedure allows VA doctors to treat more complicated blockages often seen in Veterans and provides more treatment options for patients with heart disease.“The staff at Durham VA is always looking for ways to provide our Veterans with the best possible care available and this new device is a great example, “ said DeAnne Seekins, director for the Durham VAMC. “Dr. Rao and his team embraced this ground-breaking, top-of-the-line technology making this facility a leader in the healthcare industry. We couldn’t be more proud to be the first in the VA to do it.”
Thank you to the Durham VA website for this article.