It’s hard to visualize how complex our intricate web of vessels, veins and arteries actually are. If you think of the human body’s blood circulation, it’s beyond what we can call a well-oiled machine. Every minute a healthy heart can move 5 quarts of blood throughout the body and in one day, this number is about 2,000 gallons! That’s a lot of liquid blood volume making sure all of our organs and tissues receive their needed oxygen and nutrients.
I think blood vessels are the unsung heroes of the human anatomy. Think about this for a second, if you take all the blood vessels in an adult and connect them all in one continuous line, it would be a distance of approximately 100,000 miles long. That’s hard to believe, but it’s a fact. Thanks to a relatively new field called endovascular therapy, many problems can now be treated from within the blood vessels themselves with minimally invasive procedures.
This week at the ISET conference doctors in the fields of interventional radiology, oncology, cardiology and a few others got together to discuss the advancements in this field and to discuss the future of endovascular therapy. ISET (International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy) was founded 30 years ago by Dr. Barry Katzen, M.D, a pioneer in the field of endovascular therapy and medical director of the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute.
First things first, what is endovascular therapy?
Endovascular therapy consists of minimally invasive procedures that are performed inside the blood vessels themselves that are used to treat a number of conditions such as strokes, artery blockages, aneurisms and more… The advantages are many including shorter recovery periods, much less discomfort to the patient and minimized risk of potential complications.
To make this field possible, there are an amazing combination of technologies that come together in unison and one of the most advanced is a machine manufactured by Royal Phillips called Azurion. Last year, I took a tour of the Azurion powered suites at the Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute and was thoroughly impressed. These are whole room setups that include an advanced X-ray tube that delivers images to the surgeons in real-time, exposing the patient to ultra-low doses of X-ray. The imaging resolution is impressive, and these rooms are even setup to broadcast the procedures live like a TV show.
That’s exactly what happened this week, select endovascular procedures were being performed at Baptist’s campus while a room full of doctors attending the ISET conference were watching, observing and commenting as it happened. Pretty cool.
We are efficient blood circulation machines until something goes wrong. The good news is that techniques that seemed like science fiction just a few years ago, today are a science reality. Many treatments that are at one point new and untested can become standard of care just a few years later. This is the type of event that brings together the minds that make this exchange of knowledge possible. In the end, the objective is simple, better care for all of us.