Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust

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  • Patient Advice and Complaints Service

Diamonds are this man's best friend

A teeny, tiny, diamond coated drill (called a coronary rotablator) which bores though very hardened arteries is now helping heart disease patients in Halifax and Huddersfield.

The first patients underwent the procedure at the start of this month and are already at home and on the road to recovery.

Dr Jeremy Butts and Dr Simon Grant performed the procedures at Calderdale Royal Hospital. Previously it was only available in Leeds.

All patients treated had challenging disease which could not have been tackled easily using standard stenting techniques.

Coronary rotablation is an advanced technique for treating very resistant, hardened, calcified narrowings in blood vessels that can be unresponsive to the process where a balloon is inserted into the artery to open it open.

The procedure involves delivering a tiny spinning burr coated with diamond dust - into the blood vessel to ‘core’ out the centre of the narrowing. It revolves at 160,000 revs a minute and weakens the narrowing so that it can be stretched up with balloons and then stents can be delivered.

The fragments shaved off the narrowing are far smaller than a blood cell and so can easily pass through the blood vessels and away.

The procedure can be performed from both the groin and the wrist with local anaesthetic and it could be the only treatment option for some patients with very challenging coronary disease.

Most patients will go home the next morning and are back to normal activities in the majority of cases after a short period of time. The procedure takes around 1-2 hours under local anaesthetic, the same time as a normal coronary angioplasty.

An expected 30 patients a year are due to undergo the procedure.

Dr Butts, said:  “We are delighted that patients can now receive this treatment locally. Although it is only required in a small number of people, for them it can make all the difference.”

The new procedure follows on from the highly successful angioplasty service which started at CRH in 2011. Since the service started, over 1400 local patients have been successfully treated.

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