Southeast Georgia Health System Offers New Innovative Technology for Heart Disease

Cardiologists at Southeast Georgia Health System recently began offering a new treatment option for patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease. The innovative technology is a novel application of lithotripsy, an approach that uses sonic pressure waves, also known as shockwave energy.

“Sonic pressure waves have been used for decades to safely break up kidney stones and, in 2021, Intravascular Lithotripsy, or IVL, was approved by the FDA to be used to remove problematic calcium in a patient’s coronary arteries,” said Matthew Certain, M.D., board-certified interventional cardiologist, Southeast Georgia Physician Associates-Cardiology and a member of the Brunswick Campus medical staff. “Performed in the Cath Lab, IVL allows us to crack the calcium so that the artery can be safely expanded and a stent implanted to restore blood flow with minimal trauma to normal arterial tissue. In some cases, it can eliminate the need for open heart surgery.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally, taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year—more than 600,000 of those deaths are in the United States. As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which can narrow the artery. Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately one million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30% have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events.

“It’s exciting to be starting a new chapter in the treatment of heart disease in some of our most complex patient cases, and it certainly offers new hope to patients with cardiovascular disease,” said Certain. “The Health System’s leadership team, along with all the providers and team members, are committed to being our region’s health care provider of choice. Offering advanced procedures that are proven to improve patient outcomes is evidence of their dedication to high quality patient care.”