Using Sonic Waves to Clear Coronary Arteries

June 29, 2021


For Joseph Komor, what started out as six months of neck pain, wound up in a lifesaving procedure to treat his coronary artery disease using advanced sonic wave technology. 

For more than two decades, Joseph has received cardiac care through The Valley Hospital, having previously received a stent implant after suffering a heart attack and being diagnosed with heart failure in 2000. When he began experiencing neck pain, shortness of breath, and weight gain, the 89-year-old did not initially become worried. But when his symptoms grew worse, and it became difficult to speak, Joseph visited his primary cardiologist, Dr. Thomas J. Molloy for answers. 

Dr. Molloy ordered an angiogram, which uses x-rays to visualize blood vessels, to determine the condition of Joseph’s heart. The test revealed two blockages, one a heavily calcified 99 percent blockage. Given the high risk associated with Joseph’s prior cardiac history, Dr. Molloy called upon the expertise of a colleague, Dr. Rajiv Tayal, an interventional cardiologist, structural heart specialist, and the recently appointed Director of The Valley Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. 

“My symptoms were getting persistently worse over the past six to eight months, but I never thought it would be a heart issue. I was lucky to come to The Valley Hospital quickly. If it wasn’t for Dr. Tayal and Dr. Molloy, I may not have lived another two weeks,” said Joseph. 

To treat Joseph’s coronary artery disease, Dr. Tayal used minimally invasive Shockwave technology, also known as intravascular lithotripsy (IVL). Based on the lithotripsy technology used to break up kidney stones, Shockwave technology delivers sonic waves, also known as shockwaves, to break up problematic calcium allowing the blocked artery to safely expand while restoring blood flow through a stent implant.

Watch Shockwave Intravascular Lithotripsy technology in action!

This video has been provided by Shockwave Medical.

“Mr. Komor was my very first case at Valley and The Valley Hospital’s first procedure using Shockwave technology. We are the third institution in New Jersey to use the technology to treat coronary artery disease,” commented Dr. Tayal.  

“After 30 years of using the same tools to treat heart disease, Shockwave IVL technology advances our treatment offerings for some of our most complex patient cases. This novel application of lithotripsy reduces the patient’s risk of procedural complications and damage to surrounding tissue in the artery. We are thrilled to add Shockwave to our armamentarium, providing our patients with the most advanced treatments of heart disease,” he said. 

Joseph’s Shockwave procedure to clear his two coronary artery blockages took two hours to complete. Joseph stayed overnight at Valley before being released the next morning. 

“The procedure was a tremendous success. I had a fast recovery and was able to return home the next morning. I now feel rejuvenated, and all my symptoms have disappeared. My body strength and stamina have increased. I feel 10 years younger,” said Joseph.
“I want to see my 90th birthday. Thanks to Dr. Tayal and Dr. Molloy I will now have the opportunity to do so. I’m also back to working around the yard and staying active,” he said. 

To find out if the Shockwave intravascular lithotripsy system is right for the treatment of your heart disease, please call 1-800-Valley 1 (1-800-825-5391).

About Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Each year, more than 600,000 people in the United States die of heart disease. 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. Calcium makes the artery rigid, more difficult to treat with current technologies, and can result in complications for patients who are undergoing stent procedures.

Physicians often use stents to open an artery, and of the approximately one million patients that undergo a stent procedure each year, 30 percent have problematic calcium that increases their risk for adverse events. 

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Tayal about this procedure, please contact Erin Blake, Communications & Marketing Associate, at 201-270-5720.