Brachytherapy

What is brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is a very effective therapy that delivers targeted, high doses of radiation inside a blocked coronary artery where a stent is present.

Radiation therapy that targets recurring blockage has two purposes: to treat the blockage itself by killing the cells that have re-blocked the stent, and to prevent further blockage by inhibiting tissue growth.

Why does Munson Medical Center offer brachytherapy?

Present stent technology is very effective and most patients can expect good long-term results with drug-eluting stents. However, 5 - 10 percent of patients experience a narrowing of the coronary artery after an angioplasty or stenting procedure. This narrowing is caused by fibrous tissue growth at the site of treatment that cannot be prevented effectively with anticoagulants.

Brachytherapy remains a well-established treatment for alleviating recurring blockage.

What are the options for recurring blockage?

Patients with in-stent blockage have three options: bypass surgery, repeat stenting, or brachytherapy. A limited number of stents, usually two, can be placed in the exact same spot.

Interventional cardiologists at the Webber Heart Center have chosen to continue to offer brachytherapy as an effective treatment option for patients with recurring blockage.

How is brachytherapy performed?

Radiation is delivered during a special heart catheterization procedure by a catheter designed to apply radiation to a localized area. 

The procedure is a true team effort. An interventional cardiologist uses balloons to get the best widening in the stent to alleviate the blockage. A radiation oncologist helps place the brachytherapy catheter, and then prepares the radiation source. The cardiologist advances the catheter and the radiation oncologist determines how long it should remain in the artery.

Follow-up care

Patients who have brachytherapy require a minimum one year of dual antiplatelet therapy of aspirin and Plavix followed by lifelong therapy with aspirin.

Who does this procedure?

All of the interventional cardiologists at Munson Medical Center perform brachytherapy.

For more information, contact Traverse Heart & Vascular at 800-637-4033.