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New technology provides clearer image of heart vessels

Feb 25, 2014

Heart doctors at the Salem Health Heart & Vascular Institute are using new technologies and techniques to diagnose and treat heart disease.

Salem Hospital is the second hospital* in the state to adopt Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), an infrared approach to viewing blockages in heart vessels. The hospital also upgraded its intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) system to view blockages giving doctors critical options when it comes to assessing a patient’s heart health.

Both approaches help physicians diagnose blockages and give insight for proper selection and placement of stents and other devices to restore blood flow at the site of the blockage.

“With OCT we can see blockages, tissue build up and stent placement much more clearly,” said Dr. Kamran Ghalili, a cardiologist with Salem Heart Center and member of the Salem Health Heart & Vascular Institute. “The infrared catheter has a small tip and is easier to handle while getting the images. Patients benefit because images are obtained quicker with less movement and more clarity.”

OCT uses infrared light to help doctors measure the narrowing of the coronary arteries. It provides extremely high-resolution images from within the artery and can pinpoint the microscopic characteristics of a vulnerable plaque, as well as the subtle structural changes after a heart blockage.

“With OCT, we see precise images of how a stent is holding the artery open and whether it is positioned correctly against the artery wall,” said Dr. Ghalili. “This potentially minimizes the need for repeat procedures and, at follow-up, provides a good view on whether there is a recurrence of the issue.”

The hospital also upgraded its intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) system. With IVUS, a catheter is inserted into a coronary vessel where high-frequency sound waves reflect off tissue or vessel walls. The reflected sound waves create an image to aid in visualizing vessel and heart structure. According to Dr. Ghalili, IVUS is a good option in cases of poor visibility, as well as when blockages are at the beginning of an artery.

“These technologies enable cardiologists to make better decisions on how to treat the patient’s blood vessel,” said Dr. Ghalili. “From discovery, to diagnosis, to stent placement, to post-stent assessment, we are using the latest technology to provide better heart care.”

The OCT diagnostic imaging technology is part of St. Jude Medical, Inc.’s ILUMIEN™ PCI Optimization System. The ultrasound technology is part of Volcano’s CORE Integrated Imaging System that delivers the IVUS images.

Salem Health is comprised of Salem Hospital, West Valley Hospital, Willamette Health Partners and other affiliated health care organizations offering exceptional care to people in and around Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley. Salem Hospital received the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ from Healthgrades in 2014, placing it among the top 5 percent of more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide. “Like” us on; follow us on Twitter: @salemhealth; and view us at

*St. Charles Bend is the first.

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