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Source: MyNewsMesa.com 

(Courtesy of St. Luke’s Medical Center)

St. Luke’s Medical Center, the first hospital in Arizona to offer a same-day coronary angioplasty through the radial artery in the wrist, is reporting significantly improved outcomes and cost savings for patients and the health system using the new artery access point. As a result, the less-invasive procedure is attracting national attention.

According to a national study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, radial access could save hospitals across the U.S. more than $300 million each year due to the ability it gives hospitals and patients to have same-day surgical procedures.

St. Luke’s Medical Center is still one of few hospitals in the U.S. performing same-day cardiac catheterization using the radial artery as a standard practice. The endovascular procedure, which improves blood flow to the heart, is typically performed using the femoral artery in the groin as the more common point of access to diagnose and treat arterial diseases, including coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease.

A growing number of hospitals across the nation are now rethinking how they approach cardiac catheterization, as the new artery access point has shown a marked difference in the recovery time, pain level, reduction in complications and overall better short- and long-term outcomes for patients.

“St. Luke’s Medical Center has one of the most unique catheterization labs in the state, which has allowed us to get ahead of the curve in offering a better patient experience with better patient outcomes,” said Dr. Richard Heuser, chief of cardiology at St. Luke’s Medical Center, who started conducting radial access catheterization in 1993. “As a result, both patients and the health care system are enjoying significant cost savings. Since we began offering the procedure in 2010, the hospital has seen upwards of $750,000 in annual health care savings.”

Heuser, a trailblazer in cardiology, identified the potential benefits early on and was among the first wave of cardiologists in the nation to begin using this innovative procedure. According to Heuser, the radial approach reduces complications by 80 percent compared to the femoral approach.

“Although we’re using more technologically-advanced catheters and equipment, the fact that we can offer a less-invasive procedure by going through the wrist means we can keep patients out of the hospital, reduce potential complications, and help them get on with their lives, all of which saves money for them and the health care system as a whole,” said Heuser.

Linda Sortor, one of Heuser’s patients, has already experienced the benefits. She considers her ability to walk out of the hospital on the same day of her procedure, with no external evidence of her surgery other than a small Band-Aid on her wrist, as a significant triumph. “I was back to normal the next day,” she said.

Cardiac catheterization is performed in more than 1 million U.S. patients a year in order to detect blockages in arteries and deploy stents to vessels that provide blood to the heart, particularly in patients with peripheral vascular disease and obesity. The American Heart Association estimates that 82 million American adults are living with some type of heart or vascular disease.

In the traditional approach, the cardiologist begins the procedure by inserting a catheter through the femoral artery in the groin. The catheter is then directed through the artery to the heart, where the cardiologist completes the procedure. Approaching through the femoral artery requires working through layers of muscle, which can increase the trauma to the patient’s body. Typically, patients are required to remain hospitalized overnight and must lie flat for several hours to prevent bleeding following the procedure. Because the femoral artery is large, if the resulting wound from the procedure accidentally opens up during the healing process, it can cause significant bleeding requiring medical intervention.

In the radial approach, the cardiologist inserts the catheter through the radial artery, a much smaller artery in the patient’s wrist. This artery is located close to the surface of the skin resulting in less trauma to the body during insertion. Because the radial artery is smaller and located in the wrist, it responds quickly to simple pressure. The technique has been associated with a fourfold reduction in major bleeding. Additionally, using the radial approach enables most patients to immediately get out of bed and move around following the procedure, which provides them greater comfort and a faster recovery period.

St. Luke’s Medical Center has a long history of innovation. It was the first hospital in Arizona to open a cardiac catheterization lab, and the first in the Valley to perform open heart surgery. St. Luke’s Medical Center is now one of only two hospitals in the state using radial access as its primary practice.

Source: ABC-15’s Morning Show

Source: ABC-15’s Midday Show

AZ Business Leaders 2017 – Dr. Heuser

Source: KTAR News Talk Radio

Source: KTVK-TV 3 Good Evening Arizona

St. Luke’s Medical Center is the first hospital in Arizona, and among the first in the nation, to offer a cutting-edge treatment that provides relief for patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of legs or feet. The addition of the new technology is part of the hospital’s continuing commitment to bring patients better treatment options and improve overall outcomes.

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pantheris™ lumivascular atherectomy system, developed by Avinger, is an innovative image-guided therapy that, for the first time ever, allows physicians to see and remove plaque simultaneously during atherectomy procedures, which involve cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.

Ajay Mhatre, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center, was the first physician in Arizona to use the new Pantheris lumectomy catheter during a procedure on March 10 on an 80-year-old diabetic patient.

Mesa snowbird Larry Horak endured years of severe contractions in his left calf, which seemed to occur randomly, whether drinking water or exercising. While he attributed the contractions to a spasm or charley horse, Horak was suffering from PAD, which was diagnosed by Dr. Mhatre.

Larry had intense pain in his toe one evening and, although it was red, he thought it would dissipate by morning, but instead the pain intensified and his toe turned black. Larry had a serious staph infection and was heading down the road to an amputation.

Knowing his age and diabetic condition, Dr. Mhatre also discovered poor blood flow and immediately realized Horak would be the perfect candidate for this breakthrough treatment, as both of the patient’s arteries were severely blocked. Patients commonly diagnosed with PAD are typically over the age of 60 and have a history of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or atherosclerosis.

Mhatre says peripheral artery disease is a devastating and deadly condition that detrimentally impacts the quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness, discoloration and immense pain.

In terms of outcomes, the safety and advanced precision of the Pantheris technology may potentially reduce the need for follow-up procedures and stents.

This technology is a game changer in the treatment of PAD. Clinical studies have shown that not only does this new technology significantly reduce the recurrence of PAD, but procedures have avoided vessel perforation, dissection and late aneurysm.

In addition to these benefits, Pantheris’ radiation-free technology may help minimize radiation exposure to clinicians and patients by decreasing use of fluoroscopy.

PAD impacts nearly 20 million adults in the U.S. and is a costly disease with treatment estimated to cost up to $389 billion, more than the costs for diabetes and coronary disease, as well as all cancers combined. Often dismissed as normal signs of aging, the disease can become so severe and difficult to address with traditional treatments that patients and physicians often resort to undergoing invasive bypass surgeries, which can result in even higher health risks and lengthy, painful recoveries. In severe cases, patients often face amputation.

About Avinger

Founded in 2007, Avinger, Inc. is developing the next generation of catheter-based technologies for the treatment of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular disease utilizing core competencies in medical device catheter engineering and intravascular imaging. Currently, the company is developing a robust pipeline focused on creating devices that merge therapeutic and intravascular imaging capabilities into a single catheter – a platform that currently does not exist for minimally invasive treatment of vascular disease. For more information, visit avinger.com.

About Phoenix Heart Center

Located on the campus of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Phoenix Heart Center is a physician practice committed to delivering state-of-the-art cardiovascular care.  The professional health care team at Phoenix Heart Center provides a broad spectrum of cardiac services, from non-invasive tests for preventative care and early diagnosis, to all types of interventional catheter procedures. Using the latest advanced medical technology with years of expertise, the board-certified interventional cardiologists at Phoenix Heart Center can pinpoint heart issues and accurately diagnose treatments.  For more information, visit phoenixheartcenter.com or call 602-234-0004.

About St. Luke’s Medical Center

Serving Metropolitan Phoenix for more than 100 years, St. Luke’s Medical Center is a 200-bed tertiary care hospital part of IASIS Healthcare offering a full range of medical services, including emergency care, orthopedics, cardiac care, bariatrics, physical rehabilitation, pain management and wound care. St. Luke’s has a long history of innovation as the first hospital in Arizona to open a cardiac catheterization lab, and the first in the Valley to perform open heart surgery. With a focus on serving the diverse health care needs of the community, experienced professionals provide high quality care with the latest technology, in a caring environment. St. Luke’s Medical Center is an Official Healthcare Partner of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury. For more information, visit stlukesmedcenter.com or call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).Find St. Luke’s Medical Center on Facebook and follow the hospital on Twitter.

Source: John Hopkins Magazine Fall 2016



This coming October I’m honored to direct the most attended cardiology meeting in Arizona again which is being held at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Oct. 13 and 14, 2016. The two-day continuing education conference will center on recent advancements and controversial topics in multiple areas of cardiovascular disease, and present new ideas for tailoring the most appropriate treatment plan for each individual.

Focus will be placed on gauging and monitoring therapy, including recognizing symptoms, evaluating risk factors, guiding treatment through imaging, general and functional testing, and appropriate therapy. Unlike most programs, this will be delivered as a case-based approach with case examples that will make the lectures more relevant to everyday practitioners.

This symposium is designed for primary care physicians, clinical cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, basic scientists, vascular medicine specialists, nurses, perfusionists, cath lab technicians, and other health care professionals with a special interest in the field of cardiovascular medicine. Presentations this year will also be relevant to practitioners involved with foot care.

Promedica International designates this live activity for a maximum of 12.5 hours AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™.  CME certificates will be sent in a secure document via email upon completion of the online evaluation form post symposium.

We have several new additions to this year’s symposium sessions, including:

  • Continuing Nursing Education symposium designed with an emphasis on providing the best in patient care. This symposium will take place on Wednesday, October 12 from noon – 5 p.m., at the Arizona Biltmore. To register for the Nursing Symposium, click here.
  • Registered attendees of the CDM symposium are also welcome to attend the satellite symposium, Optimizing Treatment and Improving Care Transitions in Chronic Heart Failure, on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 6:45-7:45 a.m. When registering for the main scientific sessions, guests will have the option to register for this additional course at no additional fee.

If you are interested in registering to attend the main symposium and/or nursing symposium, click here.

Dr. Richard Heuser receives health care leadership award from AZ Business Magazine. Read full article here.


Dr. Richard Heuser, chief of cardiology at St. Luke’s Medical Center and Phoenix Heart Center was given the Top Cardiovascular Innovation Award from the Cardiovascular Research Technologies for Medical Innovation.

Heuser also is founder of Arizona Medical Systems, which developed a new technology called the Punctual Guidewire, which has been issued three patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has been used in a pre-clinical study.

The device allows cardiologists to use a tiny needle to access arteries and veins, helping interventional cardiologists and other vascular specialists eliminate steps in their procedures.

The device is expected to have a tremendous effect in more than 13 million cardiology procedures in the United States.

“The Punctual Guidewire is a simple yet novel idea that serves a unique purpose, flipping the dichotomy of requiring a larger needle to introduce a larger wire, to allowing a far smaller needle for the same large diameter wire,” Heuser said.


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