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With the blood-flow test, "we were able to more accurately or more judiciously place stents," and decide which arteries to skip, said Dr. William Fearon, a Stanford University cardiologist who helped lead the study.
Between 5 and 10 percent of those given the blood-flow test were able to skip angioplasty and stents altogether, and were prescribed medicines instead, he said.
The study was mostly paid for by Radi Medical Systems Inc., a Swedish company that makes the wire used in the blood-flow test and was recently acquired by St. Jude Medical of St. Paul, Minn. Several study leaders have consulted or been paid speakers for Radi or various stent makers.
The Radi wire, with a sensor that does the pressure measurement, costs about $750 versus $100 for an ordinary angioplasty wire. But it likely saves money by avoiding pricier stents, which cost $2,000 and up, and possibly some cardiac stress tests, which cost $1,000 or more, Fearon and other heart specialists said.
A second study should quickly be done to see if the benefit can be confirmed, justifying routine use of the blood-flow test, said Dr. Stephen Ellis, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.
"If validated, the results really should improve medical care," he said.
A second company -- Volcano Corp. in Rancho Cordova, Calif. -- also makes a blood-flow testing wire.
On the Net:
Medical journal: http://www.nejm.org/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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