Child's Toy Inspires Breakthrough Heart Surgery

Heart specialists at Southampton General Hospital are the first in Europe to implant an innovative ‘slinky’ coil to open a patient’s blocked artery.

Stents are used to create permanent blood flow in previously blocked arteries of coronary heart disease or heart attack patients during angioplasty, a procedure in which cardiologists inflate an artery with a small balloon, clear it and insert a
permanent coil.

The new advanced design, known as the Resolute Integrity Stent System, is more flexible than other types and can be used to reach narrow or difficult blood vessels – its bendy design also means it has an improved ability to mould to the
shape of an individual’s artery rather than remain rigid.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Iain Simpson, who performed the first procedure using the coil, said:

“The new stent is more flexible for getting around twisty arteries, giving us another option when treating patients with coronary heart disease or those who have suffered a heart attack.”

Immediate angioplasty with a stent, known as primary percutaneous coronary intervention (primary PCI), is now recognised as the best treatment for heart attack patients – and Southampton’s cardiac centre is the major centre in the Wessex region to offer the treatment round-the-clock.

The team also has a rescue service for surrounding hospitals in the south who don’t provide angioplasty 24/7.

Before the development of primary PCI, patients were treated with clot-busting drugs, effective only in around 70% of cases and resulting in a longer hospital stay.