Long Island doctors using sound waves to loosen calcium deposits from arteries, restore blood flowFor decades doctors have been seeking better ways of treating obstructions in coronary arteries — especially blockages made up of calcium — a factor that has produced several innovations, including miniature “rotoblades” that grind it up the way plumbers attack gunk in pipes.
Now, doctors at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill have turned to something far gentler: sound waves, an evolving technique that loosens stubborn calcium from arterial walls. This minimally invasive method of dislodging blockages is part of a nationwide clinical trial that promises to restore blood flow by breaking up calcium at the speed of sound.
“This is amazing. It’s actually space-age technology,” said Dr. Richard Shlofmitz, chairman of cardiology at St. Francis. He said the procedure is formally known as intravascular lithotripsy, a version of the same principle involved in breaking up kidney stones. That process is called kidney shock wave lithotripsy, which has been successfully used since the 1990s.