Durban – In a medical first for the continent, a doctor at Lenmed's eThekwini Hospital and Heart Centre, has performed a groundbreaking surgery that revolutionises treatment for patients living with chronic conditions.
Dr Vinesh Padayachy performed an orbital atherectomy, which sands away calcium or plaque build-up that is difficult to remove in the arteries.
The procedure was performed on a 67-year-old woman with atherosclerosis of her arteries in her extremities. She is also hypertensive, diabetic and has chronic kidney disease.
Padayachy explained that he used the orbital atherectomy system, a device that uses a 360° motion, covering the circumference of the vessel.
"This procedure greatly assists patients with blocked blood vessels. We send down a device that spins at high velocity, so much so that it files down the blockage down from the inside. This then widens the area in the blood vessel. Almost like a drill that creates a hole through the blockage," he said.
Padayachy said the blockage was broken down into such tiny fragments that it gets filtered through the system. The procedure performed was the first in Africa.
He explained that he had to undergo specialised training from experts based in the US and was able to learn and understand the procedure through a series of digital meetings.
"The wonders of modern technology," Padayachy joked.
He explained that people suffering from high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, as well as smokers were at risk for such build-up inside vessels. Old age was also a factor.
He added that surgeons also look at other factors, including the placement and length of the blockage, before deciding if the procedure would be the best option for the patient.
Comparing the current procedure to past procedures, Padayachy said the current procedure was less invasive.
"In the past we would go in and get across the blockage to open it with a stent which remained in the patient's body for the rest of their life. Now we can go in and clear the blockage without leaving a stent behind," he said.
Padayachy said follow-up treatment lay with the patient and their lifestyle changes.
"A person would have to manage their risk factors. There is no need to have the procedure again," he said.
Explaining the advantages of the procedure, Padayachy said it was minimally invasive and less stay in hospital, so it heals faster and is cheaper for the patient.
Padayachy said it was exciting to be a pioneer in the medical field. He added that he hoped to share his skills with fellow surgeons in both the public and private sectors to ensure that patients had access to the best medical healthcare.