'Diamond Back' Spins Through Blockages At 120,000 RPM

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — New technology could prove to be a major development for anybody with heart disease. A brand new artery roto-rooter has been approved by the FDA to open difficult clogged arteries.

Typically, clogged arteries are opened with a balloon and a metal stent or scaffold, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported.

However, some arteries are clogged with hard calcium that can make balloons difficult or even dangerous. Now, a spinning diamond burr could help to open those arteries.

Mikhail Shpilko had a quintuple bypass ten years ago. He recently felt a pain in his chest, the result of a blocked artery. Doctors looked at his angiogram to put in a stent but found that the clog was hardened with calcium.

“The stent either will not go, or even if it goes, would not expand, will not open up,” Dr. Samin Sharman, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, said.

On Thursday, Shpilko became the tenth patient in the country to have a newly approved procedure using a tiny, spinning, diamond burr to clear out an artery allowing doctors to place a stent. Without the burr the procedure would be dangerous in a heavily calcified artery.

“When we try to open these calcific blockages with the balloon it can create a tear inside the artery and rarely it can even cause perforation which is a catastrophic complication,” Dr. Sharma said.

The recently approved device is called the Diamond Back and is good news for some 10-percent of patients with hard plaque. It consists of a very thin wire that can be threaded through plaque before spinning at up to 120-thousand RPM. The Diamond Back gently grinds away the calcified plaque and makes the artery more pliable allowing the cardiologist to safely inflate a balloon and place the stent.

Just minutes after the procedure Mikhail told CBS 2’s Dr. Gomez that he was feeling good.

“Pretty good, no pain. I still have a clear mind and everything,” he said.

The burr won’t grind through soft artery walls and the tiny calcium particles are absorbed by the body.

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