Five years after it first started emergency angioplasties, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital has expanded its cardiac services and is now doing elective angioplasties as well.
The hospital made the announcement this week, shortly after concluding its first elective angioplasty on a patient. The Connecticut Department of Public Health approved L+M to use of these procedures on Feb. 3.
“It is now clear that it is safe to offer this procedure at a hospital like L+M in appropriately selected patients,” said Dr. Brian Cambi, the director of L+M’s new Heart and Vascular Center. “And the state has granted us approval, making us really the first of its kind program in the state. No other community hospital like us offers this service, and we’re thrilled to be able to provide it.”
Cambi said L+M was approved for emergency angioplasty procedures in 2008 after a collaborative effort between L+M and Yale-New Haven Hospital. He said that prior to this time, patients suffering from a heart attack would be given an intravenous medicine to break up a blood clot or would be transported to New Haven.
“Both of those algorithms were less effective than quickly opening the artery with an angioplasty,” said Cambi.
An angioplasty is a procedure to open blood clots or clogged arteries in a way that is less invasive than open heart surgery. A thin plastic tube, or sheath, is inserted into the artery. A catheter with a balloon device at its tip is guided through the sheath by X-ray imaging and inflated to allow blood flow around the blockage. A stent is usually put in place as well to keep the artery open. Cambi said the procedure improves blood flow and increases the chance of survival in emergency cases.
Elective angioplasty uses the same procedure, but is done for more stable patients. Cambi said the first patient for elective angioplasty was a man who came in after experiencing chest pains while shoveling snow. The hospital once would have had to send him to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment, since the elective procedure had only been approved for larger hospitals.
Bruce Cummings, president and CEO of L+M, said he considered it a “historic day” for L+M.
“From the beginning we wanted to grow the program to a point where we could offer both emergency and ultimately elective angioplasty,” said Cummings.
Cambi said elective angioplasty was approved later than emergency cases because the elective cases allow more time for a patient to go to a larger hospital, but that the Department of Public Health determined that L+M was capable of handling low-risk elective angioplasties. The New London hospital, whose Heart and Vascular Center is affiliated with that at Yale-New Haven, is the only one in eastern Connecticut that offers angioplasty services.
“This is an important step forward in the partnership between Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and the Yale Heart and Vascular Center,” said Dr. Henry S. Cabin, director of Yale-New Haven’s Heart and Vascular Center, in a statement. “It brings the expertise of the Yale Interventional Faculty to the New London community as it did with the primary angioplasty program.”
Cambi said the L+M center is also looking into the feasibility of offering other more advanced cardiovascular treatments in New London.