Allegheny Health Network Cardiovascular Institute

Innovative medical discoveries affect all of us in an enormous way. These breakthroughs are helping us recover quickly from illness to have healthy, active lives. 

Allegheny Health Network Cardiovascular Institute
Dr. Moneal Shah uses HeartFlow at the AHN Cardiovascular Institute.

But what is even more remarkable is that these innovations are saving lives. Each day, Allegheny Health Network is a difference-maker in these breakthroughs, making tomorrow’s treatments even better than today’s. Our latest innovations give our patients access to promising new treatments not widely available elsewhere. Here are some of the latest innovative treatments from our Cardiovascular Institute:

HeartFlow® – A huge leap in heart mapping

Detecting and diagnosing heart disease isn’t always cut and dry. A patient may have symptoms, but tests for blockages may come back normal. But an innovative technology is helping AHN Cardiovascular Institute physicians provide an explanation for chest pain and other symptoms and identify significant coronary artery disease.

HeartFlow uses images from standard coronary CT angiograms to create personalized digital 3D models of each patient’s coronary arteries. Using advanced computer algorithms to solve millions of complex equations, the technology determines a “fractional flow reserve” for all the arteries, which assesses the impact of blockages on blood flow.

The FDA-cleared HeartFlow provides information which helps physicians decide the best treatment for each patient, and has been shown to reduce both the need for more invasive treatments and out-of-pocket expenses for the patient.

“Any time we can prevent unnecessary procedures, especially invasive procedures like heart caths, then we can reduce the risks for the patient. The associated health care savings also are a plus,” says AHN Cardiologist Moneal Shah, MD. “With the technology from HeartFlow, we are essentially combining the information provided by a heart catheterization and a stress test through a simple non-invasive test. This is the first non-invasive technology to do this and offers the ability to reduce the need for invasive testing.”

TCAR – Innovative Carotid Stenting Safely Reduces Risks

TransCervical Carotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) is an FDA-cleared carotid stenting procedure that involves direct access to the carotid artery, but through a much smaller incision just above the clavicle instead of a longer incision along the entire neck as with similar procedures. A surgeon inserts a tube, or sheath, into the carotid artery via a small incision near the collarbone. The sheath is connected to a system called flow reversal that temporarily directs blood flow away from the brain to protect against dangerous debris reaching the brain during the procedure. Surgeons then filter the blood before returning it to a vein in the groin. A stent is implanted directly into the carotid artery via the sheath to stabilize the plaque and prevent future strokes.

“It’s a truly innovative idea,” says AHN Cardiovascular surgeon Satish Muluk, MD. “It’s the idea of fixing the carotid artery but in a different way than we’ve done in the past.” Based on published clinical trials, the procedure offers several advantages, including similar outcomes to traditional surgery, but with a smaller scar, less pain, and a quicker recovery, with patients typically returning home and to normal activities the day after surgery. AHN’s Forbes Hospital is among the first hospitals in the country to perform the procedure on patients with carotid artery disease who would be at risk to undergo traditional open surgery.

On average, TCAR is performed in less than half the time of traditional surgery, limiting the stress on the heart and significantly cutting the risk of the patient having a stroke or heart attack during the procedure. It also provides patients with a safer alternative to traditional transfemoral carotid stenting by significantly reducing the stroke risk associated with surgery.

About AHN Cardiovascular Institute

Heart care at the AHN Cardiovascular Institute is patient-centric, evidence-based and of the highest quality. Our multidisciplinary teams of experts constantly redefine the future of cardiovascular medicine, pioneering some of the greatest medical advancements in heart disease treatment. As one of the premier cardiovascular programs in the country, we provide superior care and innovative therapies, including many available only through the latest clinical trials.