Change takes time. Just look at the hold fossil fuel has on the global energy industry. Or the hold the television remote has on the lives of those whose hands hold them. Or, well, lots of things. But, when it comes to medical treatments, we expect things to be different. We see medicine advancing at break neck speed, uncovering new treatments and procedures on a daily basis. But, just because a new and better treatment is developed, doesn't mean it's going to be used. Why?
Change takes time.
Dr. Sunil Rao, a cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center, recently reported on a little-used stenting procedure. Stents are another time related necessity, becoming necessary after spending our time in front of the television, eating fast food, and generally neglecting our physical health. When we then develop atherosclerosis, stents are used to prop open our clogged arteries.
Stenting is, unfortunately, a very common medical procedure. Dr. Rao points to an alternative method of gaining access that is safer, but seldom used. The vast majority of stenting procedures use an artery in the leg to gain access. But, using the wrist to gain access appears to be safer.
Dr. Rao and his team reviewed the data from close to 600,000 stenting procedures, at over 600 hospitals, for the period of 2004 to 2007. They found that only 1.3 percent of the cases performed used the wrist to gain access. And, of this 1.3 percent, the majority of the cases were performed at only 7 medical centers.
The primary advantage of using the arm is a lower rate of complications due to bleeding. Dr. Rao indicates using the arm to gain stenting access reduces bleeding problems by 70 percent. Currently, bleeding complications occur in about 10 percent of stenting cases.
So, if the arm stenting procedure is safer, why don't all doctors use it? Well...
Change takes time.To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To read more about coronary angioplasty and stenting, see this from the Mayo Clinic.