Interventional cardiology gained ground this year as an alternative to coronary artery bypass graft surgery, as drug-eluting stents were shown to reduce restenosis rates. This and other advances in devices, such carotid stents with distal protection, could have a far-reaching impact on the health care system (including costs) as more patients undergo percutaneous interventions. For example, drug-eluting stents have “thrown a monkey wrench in the hospitals economic projections about their angioplasty business because there is a higher cost up front to acquire these stents, and with reduced amounts of restenosis, they have less repeat business,” John M. Flack, M.D., of Wayne State University, Detroit, told CARDIOLOGY NEWS.
With new devices and technologies, boundaries between interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists, vascular surgeons, and neurologists are disappearing, leading specialty societies to establish competency requirements to protect patients as well as turf. Even the Food and Drug Administration is getting into the act, with training criteria physicians must meet before they can implant Guidant's Acculink carotid stent.