Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Spinning Needle Touted as Treatment for Severe Angina

WebMD Health News

Dec. 15, 1999 (Washington) -- In what is being described as a first for the United States, a 53-year old man with severe angina has been treated for the crippling condition Wednesday with a tiny, spinning needle that poked 15 precisely arrayed holes in the left ventricle of his heart. Angina is chest pain caused by inadequate blood flow in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.

"I feel much better. I'm breathing better," said Norman Ridgeway, as the medical team was still hovering about him in the catheterization lab. Over the last 15 years, Ridgeway has suffered through bypass surgery and 13 angioplasties. Still, his condition has continued to decline to the point that he can barely walk. In no way is Ridgeway saying that he has been cured, but he does feel much improved.

The 30-minute procedure, performed under mild sedation by Fayaz Shawl, MD, director of interventional cardiology at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md., was the first in a planned series involving 15 American patients to determine if the new approach can really work.

Ultimately, Shawl hopes it may benefit the estimated 1 million Americans who suffer from severe angina.

The technique, pioneered by Shawl, is called mechanical percutaneous myocardial revascularization (MPMR) and essentially involves running a tube with a miniature drilling device into the heart. It spins at up to 2,000 revolutions per minute.

In the last 10 years physicians have been treating some of their sickest angina patients by burning holes in their hearts with lasers -- an approach generally known as myocardial revascularization. While no one knows exactly why this works, it's thought that blood flow may be enhanced by the creation of these new channels.

In spite of its promise, the laser therapy has some drawbacks, says Shawl. If it's done by traditional surgery, the death rate is almost 10%. Also, the laser system and equipment cost $250,000, compared to $10,000 to $20,000 for the drill setup.

Before the procedure, Shawl reviews an image of the patient's heart to plot his line of attack. Once the catheter is inserted, he puts a transparent grid over a video monitor and marks it each time he drills a new hole in the heart wall. Each hole is 5 mm deep and 1 mm wide.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure