Houston Methodist Sugar Land Now Offering Advanced Technology to Prevent Strokes and Heart Attacks

B. Keith Ellis, M.D., cardiologist.

B. Keith Ellis, M.D., cardiologist.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is performing an advanced procedure that uses a tiny beam of high-energy ultraviolet (UV) light to remove plaque from patient arteries.

The procedure, called coronary atherectomy, is typically performed on patients with stents who still have plaque, or build-up of fatty deposits, in their arteries. Interventional cardiologists typically use a catheter outfitted with a diamond-coated drill to cut through these deposits inside the artery.

However, with new technology, the coronary laser atherectomy catheter is more effective at removing plaque, especially buildups of calcium. It works through a process called photoablation, using cool UV light to break the molecular bonds of plaque, stimulating both a sonic wave and a reaction called cavitation to crack hardened deposits and sweep away the remaining material.

“The laser atherectomy catheter is an advanced tool that enables us to clear a more defined path within the artery,” said B. Keith Ellis, M.D., board-certified interventional cardiologist and director of Cardiovascular Services, who was the first at Houston Methodist Sugar Land to perform the procedure. “The traditional approach would cut through deposits but leave traces of build-up on the artery wall. The laser catheter pulverizes and removes calcium deposits giving the patient even better blood flow. It’s a safe, effective procedure that delivers substantial benefit to patients.”

The procedure is performed under local anesthetic in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab. The interventional cardiologist inserts the catheter through a small incision, usually in the groin or arm, and guides it through the blood vessel system using the latest imaging tools until it reaches the blockage.

“We are excited to have this tool at our disposal, especially for complex cases where traditional atherectomy can’t provide the same results,” said Ellis. “There are many patients who suffer from reduced blood flow due to plaque buildup, which can create significant health problems such as strokes and heart attacks. Improving atherectomy via laser photoablation is a tremendous benefit.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ellis or another cardiologist with Houston Methodist Cardiology Associates, call 713.776.9500. Visit  houstonmethodist.org/sugarland to learn more about Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital.