Combining attentive, compassionate care with our extensive clinical and research resources, UT Southwestern's cardiology experts and vascular specialists deliver individualized care within pre-eminent health care facilities.
At UT Southwestern Medical Center, we have expertise using coronary brachytherapy, a unique, state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedure to treat coronary artery disease.
Our multidisciplinary team is focused on long-term solutions that can help patients avoid heart failure and achieve optimal heart health.
Improving Heart Health Through Coronary Brachytherapy
Coronary brachytherapy is a procedure that uses radiation to prevent an artery from becoming narrow again.
This condition, called restenosis, sometime occurs after a stent – a wire mesh tube that opens the artery and restores blood flow – is used to treat a narrowed or blocked coronary artery. Restenosis is caused by the buildup of excessive scar tissue.
During coronary brachytherapy, doctors deliver a small amount of radiation to prevent the growth of the cells that produce scar tissue.
The skilled interventional cardiologists at UT Southwestern have extensive experience performing complex procedures to improve heart conditions and manage symptoms. We’re one of only a few medical centers in the region to offer coronary brachytherapy to treat restenosis.
Coronary Brachytherapy: Conditions We Treat
Coronary brachytherapy is an advanced treatment option for coronary artery disease, a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply the heart become narrowed and hardened.
This disease, which can develop over decades, is usually caused by deposits that contain cholesterol and other material (plaque) and inflammation. Coronary artery disease reduces blood flow to the heart and can lead to a heart attack.
We may recommend coronary brachytherapy for patients with coronary artery disease who are also experiencing chronic in-stent restenosis, the re-narrowing of an artery after stent placement.
Restenosis occurs more frequently with bare metal stents than it does with drug-eluting stents (stents that are coated with time-release medicine to prevent the artery’s re-narrowing). Still, some patients – an estimated 3% to 10% – will experience restenosis within six to nine months after stent placement.
Other factors can increase the risk of in-stent restenosis, such as diabetes, small blood vessels, multiple stents, and longer stents.
What to Expect
Our doctors consider a variety of factors when determining if coronary brachytherapy is an appropriate treatment for someone with coronary artery disease. For example, we look at the:
- Number of stents that have been placed
- Patient’s medical history
- Size of the narrowed artery and blockage
- Patient’s risk of restenosis
Coronary brachytherapy is a minimally invasive procedure performed by an interventional cardiologist and a radiation oncologist. We begin by performing a balloon angioplasty, during which the doctor makes a tiny incision in the groin or wrist to access the coronary arteries.
The doctor will then insert a tiny balloon catheter into the blocked blood vessel to help widen it.
After the angioplasty, we insert another catheter and deliver a small amount of radiation through a “ribbon” of isotopes, leaving it in place for a few minutes. This radioactive ribbon destroys the cells that lead to restenosis.
The radiation does not affect other parts of the body. After the procedure, patients limit their physical activity for a few days. They will also be prescribed important medication to prevent blood clots.
Our cardiac rehabilitation specialists create personalized plans that combine proper nutrition, exercise, and, if necessary, nicotine cessation into patients’ routines. Our goal is to improve patients’ long-term cardiovascular health.
Learn more about our Outpatient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at UT Southwestern.
To develop new treatments, improve diagnosis, and help prevent diseases, UT Southwestern conducts clinical studies and clinical trials to add to existing knowledge about coronary brachytherapy. For example, we led a study that showed intravascular brachytherapy (IVBT) had significantly lower major adverse cardiac events in patients with multilayered drug-eluting coronary stent restenosis when compared with other percutaneous options at one-year follow-up.
Ask us about current and upcoming studies, or search for a clinical trial.