Every year around 2.2 million people worldwide undergo treatment in the hospital for narrowed or blocked coronary arteries, the blood vessels around the heart. They receive a stent, a metal mesh tube that holds the barrel open. Ten percent of them return within a year because a new blockage has arisen at the treated site or elsewhere in the coronary arteries. The occurrence of complaints is due to the presence of cholesterol in the vascular wall. This project developed a technique, intravascular photoacoustics, with which those deposits can be detected, which can be applied during the first treatment. A thread in the blood vessel makes a picture of the cholesterol deposits with a combination of light and echo.
The above mentioned pictures make it possible to make the treatment more precise and to treat all dangerous places, not just the symptomatic ones. This makes the treatment more predictable, safer and better. The 10% that return within a year will be at least halved, which will prevent more than 100,000 re-treatments (on average € 10,000 each).