The latest in medical technology is being used at the Royal United Hospital in Bath to help quickly and efficiently diagnose patients at risk from obstructive coronary disease.
The cutting-edge technology means that many patients being checked for a narrowing of their coronary arteries, something which can lead to angina and heart attack, may no longer need to undergo additional stress testing or even an invasive procedure.
The RUH has one of the latest CT scanners, that allows radiologists to capture motion-free images of the heart and its blood vessels in a single heartbeat.
If the scan shows signs of coronary heart disease, it may be sent to HeartFlow, a company in the US, where it is analysed using computation fluid dynamic algorithms.
The results are then returned to the RUH within just six hours in the form of a computer-generated 3D model, clearly illustrating if the arteries have potentially flow-limiting narrowing and where.
Patients showing signs of obstructive coronary disease go forward to have ‘revascularisation’, through the introduction of a stent by cardiologists or a coronary bypass operation by cardiac surgeons.
Where no flow-limiting narrowing of the arteries is found, patients don’t have to undergo any further tests and invasive procedures as they would have in the past, and instead, their condition can usually be managed with lifestyle advice and medications.
Consultant Radiologist, Dr Ben Hudson, said: “We’ve had nearly 300 patients use the new technology.
“It means that we are able to diagnose potential obstructive coronary disease earlier, and those patients that do not have a narrowing of their arteries no longer have to go through any unnecessary and invasive tests.
“The HeartFlow analysis also helps us to determine whether or not the insertion of stents or surgical bypass is likely to relieve symptoms and improve a patient’s longer-term outcomes.”
Consultant Radiologist, Dr. Jonathan Rodrigues, added: “Heart disease remains the biggest killer in the UK. This new technology helps us work closely with our cardiology and cardiac surgical colleagues to identify upfront the best treatment for each individual patient.”
The HeartFlow Analysis tool was introduced at the RUH after a successful bid to NHS England for an Innovation and Technology Payment, which helps to fund innovative medical devices, diagnostics and digital products.
HearftFlow Analysis is being used on a trial basis until April 2020.