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Is plain balloon angiopasty(POBA) a dead concept ? If so who killed it ?

Posted Mar 08 2011 12:54pm

When  PTCA was introduced  by Gruntzig  in 1977 the whole world was awestruck. All he did was . . . to dilate a coronary stenosis with a balloon. No scaffolding  was ever thought off at that time.  It was a huge achievement .   PCI version 1 was  performed for over  20  years in nearly a million  patients   . Till his death stenting  was  an unknown concept.

When the stents first came in,  it was first used with extreme caution .  From the days of  bail out stenting, it  has evolved  into provisional  stenting, elective stenting ,and  now  what is called  “mandatory stenting”

When  Greuentzig was able to  perfuse the obstructed coronary arteries  successfully  in thousands  of patients  in the 1980s,    with a simple balloon

. . . what is the difficulty for us  to replicate it  in 2011 ?

Unfortunately  advocates of POBA (Plain old balloon angioplasty) are considered  to be  un-scientiifc cardiologists or even carry a risk of labeled as quacks.

But please remember . . . POBA   is alive and doing well  too ,  in spite of the serious threat  it faces from the current generation interventionists  . It  will continue to have an  important role in  many  situations.

1.In patients with multivessel  disease while the  proximal lesion  deserve a stent  , POBA is preferred in distal lesions  to reduce the overall metal load .

2.POBA has a major role to play in Primary PCI .We need to realise  dying myocardium does not demand  for stents. It simply requires  quick and prompt restoration of  blood flow. POBA can achieve this with flying colors in most situations.

3. Further , stenting  may be  difficult in complex lesions   during primary PCI .Experience tells us , it  is  dangerous to prolong the primary PCI  procedure time. Here POBA is the only choice ,  may be assisted by thrombus aspiration. Stenting may be delayed or even avoided in many STEMI patients. . We know there is huge STEMI population with  pure thrombus with no atherosclerosis.

4.Patients  with  co morbid conditions , who are  likely to have a non cardiac surgery in the near future  and those who  can not take antiplatelet  drugs  POBA will score over BMS/DES.

5.Finally a POBA costs nothing . .All it requires is a stiff  balloon . In this recession prone world  and ever increasing incidence of  CAD  , POBA  could be the  answer.

6. Acute recoil in POBA (Sudden deaths in POBA is  a rare event !) are more of a perceived fear rather than a reality. It can be argued stents  are  primarily used  to make  cardiologists job easy and  comfortable.

7.Cost effectiveness of plain balloon verses stenting was never  properly tested .

Final message

When sudden deaths  due to subacute   thrombois in DES population   is accepted with all those attendant  pride . . . why not we accept a risk of  less sinister event  namely the  late onset restenosis with POBA.

This is a funny world . The DES fiasco is driving us towards stent less world and a bio degradable stent is already being projected as new savior.

Meanwhile no  one can kill POBA thats for sure !  It  will  ultimately   be reinvented  with another exotic study  soon !


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