Sacred Heart cardiologist leads training on minimally invasive approach to treat severe chest pain


On May 16 and 17, cardiologist Stephen Cook, MD, along with Dr. William Lombardi, of PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, led a two-day session at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend to train more than 20 physician colleagues from hospitals around the country in a minimally invasive procedure to treat patients living with a complete blockage of a coronary artery. The procedure is called the Hybrid Chronic Total Occlusion (CTO) Approach, and PeaceHealth Sacred Heart is the only hospital in Oregon to perform this innovative procedure.

Chronic total occlusions of an artery are common, occurring in 15 to 20 percent of patients with significant coronary artery disease. The condition can cause severe angina (chest pain) and can lead to a lower quality of life.

Most CTO patients are treated with medical therapy or bypass surgery; however, in 2011, interventional cardiologists at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart began offering this new, minimally invasive procedure to reroute blood flow around the blockage and restore patients' quality of life.

Through a small incision in the femoral artery near the groin, interventional cardiologists use a catheter to gain access to the blockage and reroute the blood flow around it. Thanks to advances in technology and technique, the expert team approaches blockages from either the front or back, via collateral vessels that develop over time. This "hybrid" approach provides more treatment options and improved patient outcomes, with more than 95 percent of blockages successfully treated in the cardiac catheterization lab.

Best of all, patients typically experience immediate and dramatic symptom relief.

The physicians attending last week’s training heard lectures and observed seven live cases performed at the hospital via a video link. The cases also streamed live on the web so additional registrants could watch them remotely in real time.

“Typically, physicians aren’t traveling to Eugene/Springfield for training on new techniques, so we’re excited to be on the leading edge of this innovative procedure,” Dr. Cook said.

 Physicians who are interested in performing the hybrid CTO approach must first attend a two-day training like the one held at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart and must perform several procedures at their own hospitals with a proctor. Dr. Cook has begun serving as a proctor, visiting two hospitals a month across the country. A second training conference is scheduled for this September at Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center.

For more information about this innovative minimally invasive procedure, visit