New evidence shows that with appropriate preparation, angioplasty can be safely and effectively performed at community hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery units. This was according to data presented from the CPORT-E trial during the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2012 Annual Scientific Session. The study is the first randomized controlled trial to investigate elective cath lab angioplasty (or percutaneous coronary intervention, which includes stenting and balloon angioplasty) in community hospitals in the United States.
Results showed no difference in death rates among patients undergoing elective angioplasty at facilities with and without on-site cardiac surgery units. There were also no significant differences in rates of complications such as bleeding, renal failure and stroke. "The study shows that under certain circumstances, non-primary angioplasty can be performed safely and effectively at hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery," said Thomas Aversano, M.D., associate professor of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University and the study's lead investigator. Until a recent guideline change by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, community hospitals without cardiac surgery units performed only emergency angioplasties. Patients needing elective angioplasty were transferred to facilities with on-site cardiac surgery units. "The study supports and reinforces the [new] guidelines," said Aversano, adding that the findings can help hospitals and healthcare planners more efficiently allocate financial and human resources. The ability for community hospitals to offer elective angioplasty benefits patients, Aversano said. Other studies have shown that patients are often reluctant to transfer to a hospital that may be farther away or more expensive than their community hospital. "It's not just a question of patient convenience — it's also a question of access," he said.
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