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  1. ITV Report

Kettering General Hospital using sonic waves to help prevent heart attacks

Sonic waves break down calcium in the artery. Photo: Shockwave Medical Inc.

Doctors at Kettering General Hospital in Northamptonshire are using a pioneering procedure to treat patients with heart problems.

Shockwave Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy uses sonic waves to break down calcium deposits in arteries which can lead to blood clots and heart attack.

The hospital is one of only a few major heart centres in the world to use the technique.

Prashanth Raju, Intervention Consultant Cardiologist - Kettering General Hospital. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"On this balloon there will be Lithotripsy emitting transmitters and with the press of a button electrical energy gets converted to bubbles, which is a mechanical energy, and creates these high pressure shock waves or sonic waves.

It creates multiple micro fractures on the calcium and then the artery, which was so resistant to open, now becomes very elastic so you can use a bigger balloon and appropriate sized stent."

– Dr Prashanth Raju, Intervention Consultant Cardiologist - Kettering General Hospital.

Rosalie Mallett, 81, from Thrapston was one of the first patients to undergo the treatment at the hospital after having a heart attack. She was awake, under local aesthetic, as Dr Raju carried out the procedure - she went home the same day.

Rosalie Mallett is one of the first patients at Kettering General hospital to receive Shockwave Coronary Intravascular Lithotripsy. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I mean I don't even understand my new cooker here so I knew I wouldn't understand sonic waves, that's a job to get used to.

I was watching him do it. I could see this thing going all over me but I couldn't feel a thing, it was absolutely wonderful really."

– Rosalie Mallett, patient.
Rosalie Mallett's artery BEFORE treatment. Credit: ITV News Anglia
Rosalie Mallett's artery AFTER treatment. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dr Raju says it is an exciting new procedure that is 'simpler, safer and quicker' than previous treatments.

"We used to use a balloon with cutting blades on it or drilling through the calcium which would cause more trauma than dealing with the calcium.

So this new procedure eliminates all of those issues and keeps it very simple. As long as the balloon reaches next to the calcium it's treatable, so it's going to be a game changer."

– Dr Prashanth Raju, Intervention Consultant Cardiologist - Kettering General Hospital.