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MUSC Health Florence Medical Center Offers First-of-Its-Kind Treatment for Heart Disease in the Pee Dee region

March 29, 2022
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MUSC Health Florence Medical Center announced a new treatment option for patients with severely calcified coronary artery disease living in the Pee Dee region. The new technology is a new application of lithotripsy, an approach using sonic pressure waves to safely break up kidney stones. It now can be used to treat problematic calcium build-up in the coronary arteries that can reduce blood flow in the heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.1 More than 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease each year. As people with heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease, grow older, and their disease progresses, plaque in the arteries evolves into calcium deposits, which can narrow the artery. Physicians often use stents to open an artery. Of the approximately one million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30% have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events.2

Calcium makes the artery rigid and more difficult to reopen with conventional treatments, including balloons, which attempt to crack the calcium when inflated to high pressure, and atherectomy, which drills through the calcium to open the artery.3  While atherectomy has been available for several decades, its use remains low, and can result in complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures.3 The new shockwave technology, also known as intravascular lithotripsy (IVL), allows physicians to fracture the problematic calcium - using sonic pressure waves. The artery then can be safely expanded, and blood flow is restored with the placement of a stent and without unnecessary complications.3

“The cardiology team at MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is steadfast in our commitment to give patients access to the latest cardiovascular innovations to treat heart disease,” said Gregory May, M.D., Cardiologist. “It’s exciting to offer this treatment to patients with some of our most complex cases.”

Find out more about MUSC Health’s Heart & Vascular Services.


2 Généreux P, et al. JACC 2014; 63(18);1845-54

3 Hill J., Kereiakes D., et al. IVL for Severely Calcified Coronary Artery Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Dec, 76 (22) 2635–2646.