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    Spinning Needle Touted as Treatment for Severe Angina


    Shawl says Ridgeway's internal heart pressure has been reduced, and the pumping function of his heart has also improved.

    Shawl has done nine of the procedures on patients in India since last August, and he says they are all doing well. One of the big advantages of the catheter, says Shawl, is that it allows the physician to withdraw tissue that can be used for a biopsy. That, he says, may help show what actually causes the improved functioning of the heart.

    Alan Wasserman, MD, tells WebMD that even though these procedures do give patients short-term relief, more study is needed. "Anything that relieves pain, especially something like this that is relatively safe and relatively easy to perform, is a good start," says Wasserman, chairman of medicine at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

    The device is manufactured by AngioTrax Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., a company in which Shawl holds stock.

    Vital Information:

    • For the past 10 years, physicians have been treating patients with severe angina by burning holes into the heart with a laser.
    • In a new, similar procedure, physicians are using a tiny, spinning needle to drill holes into the heart.
    • It is unknown why these techniques appear to work, but researchers hypothesize that the tiny holes enhance blood flow to the heart.
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