Autumn 2002
New Digital Imaging Tool Enhances Care in the Heart Institute

If someone you love has heart disease, here's heartening news from the Heart Institute at Bridgeport Hospital. Now more people may qualify for angioplasty to unblock heart arteries, and fewer people may need to undergo bypass surgery, thanks to a new and more sophisticated IVUS—intravascular (within the blood vessel) ultrasound.

In 1995, Bridgeport Hospital became the first hospital in Fairfield County to use IVUS, which provides cardiologists with 360-degree "three-dimensional" views of the inside of coronary arteries, smaller blood vessels, and the chambers of the heart. Before then, cardiologists trying to judge the size and type of a blockage had to rely on "outside" information—two-dimensional, silhouette views provided by images taken from outside the blood vessel.

Now the Heart Institute has acquired a new, state-of-the-art digital IVUS machine that provides clearer images than ever before.

IVUS allows cardiologists to see inside blocked arteries. With this technique doctors can more accurately tell if a blockage is severe enough to require surgery. After angioplasty, IVUS helps to ensure that the blockage has been cleared and that stents have been properly positioned.

"IVUS provides critical information as we plan the best course of treatment for our patients," says Stuart Zarich, MD, Bridgeport Hospital's chief of Cardiology.

"New technology, with its greater precision and lower risks, is allowing cardiologists to effectively treat more heart patients without the need for surgery. Some of these patients may not have been candidates for certain non-surgical procedures before," says Mitchell Driesman, MD, director of Interventional Cardiology in the Heart Institute.