Queensland first for St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital


St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital has become the first hospital in Queensland to use a ground-breaking new surgical technique to treat patients with heart disease.

St Andrew’s Cardiologist Dr Alexander Incani has successfully used the new Shockwave Lithotripsy Balloon technology to perform surgery on four patients with coronary artery calcification, a condition defined by the build-up of calcium in the arteries causing blood vessels to narrow.

“Left untreated calcified coronary stenoses can lead to chest pain (angina), heart attack and eventually heart failure” Dr Incani said.

“This new technology has provided us with extended options for difficult cases where atherectomy and high pressure balloon dilation techniques have limitations,” he said.

“The new Shockwave Lithotripsy Balloon technique involves guiding a balloon device through the artery to the area of calcification build up, where pulses of acoustic waves are released to shatter the calcium and improve the final stent result.”

“This has allowed us to treat lesions that have been previously un-dilatable or with patients who are at too high a risk for us to use other techniques.

Dr Incani said one in six (or 4.2 million) Australians are currently affected by cardiovascular disease with a large percentage of this number being due to these calcium lesions.

Used successfully in Europe and the UK for the last number of years, this technology has just been given Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval for Australian use.

However, the technology is currently not funded and can only be used with very strict patient selection.

Dr Incani said the Shockwave Lithotripsy Balloon technique is showing great promise and St Andrew’s will be evaluating it carefully for more widespread use.

“For now though, this advancement will allow us to treat more people, who we have previously not been able to help, with a view to preventing further heart incidents,” Dr Incani said.

St Andrew’s General Manager Mairi McNeill said the hospital has been paving the way in embracing medical advancements and sophisticated technology for over 60 years and has invested heavily in recent years in the treatment of complex coronary artery disease.

“St Andrew’s has an unparalleled reputation for cardiac patient results, paired with a staff of world-class medical specialists,” Ms McNeill said.

“We are constantly seeking out the most innovative solutions for our patients, and will continue to strive for excellence.

“It is this approach that contributed to St Andrew’s securing the coveted position as Australia’s first hospital to use this remarkable technology.

“We’re pleased to pioneer this technology in Queensland, which could deliver game-changing results for our patients.”

Video: Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy (IVL) System, Mechanism of Action and Procedural Overview