U Radiologist to Demonstrate Catheter Procedure for Thousands of Physicians

U Radiologist to Demonstrate Catheter Procedure for Thousands of Physicians

Mar 25, 2003 5:00 PM

A University of Utah radiologist will show several thousand physicians from across the country a procedure on Monday (March 31) to correct an often undiagnosed and life-threatening malformation in the lung.

Franklin J. Miller, M.D., professor of radiology at the U School of Medicine, will use a catheter to insert spring coils to block off and functionally remove an abnormally formed blood vessel caused by a condition called Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT).

The procedure will be broadcast from University Hospital by closed-circuit television to the Society for Interventional Radiology convention in downtown Salt Lake City. The convention runs March 27-31 at the Salt Palace Convention Center and will bring upward of 10,000 participants to the city.

Many physicians are unfamiliar with the catheter procedure because HHT, a genetic disorder in which people lack lung capillaries that feed blood between arteries and veins, often goes undetected. HHT runs in families and can affect blood vessels in the nose, skin, lungs, brain, gastrointestinal tract, and liver.

The televised procedure is an opportunity to educate physicians about HHT, according to Miller.

Hell thread a catheter through the patients veins and into the pulmonary artery. Then hell insert spring coils through the catheter to permanently block off an abnormal blood vessel through which clots or bacteria can get to the brain.

"We are trying to teach physicians about how to diagnose and treat the problem," Miller said.

Twenty years ago, major surgery was the only way to correct this problem.

People with HHT are prone to nosebleeds, but the disorder also causes blood vessels in other organs to rupture, according to Miller. The lungs, liver and brain are the organs most commonly affected by HHT. Undetected, the problem can lead to stroke, brain abscess, and congestive heart failure in people with HHT.

Many physicians dont recognize nosebleeds as a symptom of HHT. But when nosebleeds are clustered in families, it can indicate the presence of HHT.

One in 5,000 people has HHT, making it a relatively common genetic disorder, according to Jamie McDonald, M.S., C.G.C., a genetic counselor at the Universitys HHT clinic, one of only five in the country designated by the HHT Foundation to treat the disorder.

McDonald, who has HHT, co-founded the clinic in 1996 with Miller and James L. Parkin, M.D., former chair of surgery at the U medical school.

As well as treating HHT, the U clinic soon will give genetic tests to diagnose the disorder, according to McDonald. The tests are expected to be available in April.

The American Radiologic Nurses Association is convening in Salt Lake City at the same time as the radiologists. McDonald is scheduled to address that group regarding HHT.

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