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St. Michael's hosts cardiology workshop for international physicians

Toronto, June 6, 2013

Dr. Christopher Buller and colleagues perform an angioplasty in the cardiac cathertization lab.
Dr. Christopher Buller and colleagues perform an angioplasty in the cardiac cathertization lab. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Visiting cardiologists watch angioplasty procedure from a conference room in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.
Visiting cardiologists watch angioplasty procedure from a conference room in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Four leading Canadian cardiologists came together this week at St. Michael’s Hospital to showcase and teach their skills to a group of international cardiologists.

Through an innovative use of telemedicine technology, Dr. Christopher Buller, medical director of the cardiac catheterization and intervention lab at St. Michael’s, and his colleagues were able to lead a course on percutaneous coronary intervention, commonly known as angioplasty.

Six patients agreed to have their procedures transmitted by live feed from the cardiac catheterization lab to a conference room across the street at the hospital’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. Approximately 30 physicians from across North America were gathered to watch – they could also view in real time the same images used to guide the procedure and talk to the cardiologist performing the angioplasty.

“Our goal is to teach other cardiologists about a specific form of coronary intervention – chronic total occlusion procedures. This is performed when a patient has one or more arteries that have been blocked for over 90 days,” said Dr. Buller. “By using the live feed, we can educate more people at one time and give them an experience that can’t be conveyed through paper.”

Today, there are approximately 15 centres worldwide that perform this procedure. Last year, there were only six. “These types of workshops are a step towards spreading knowledge and ensuring that patients have access to the best procedure for their case.” The workshop, hosted by St. Michael’s Hospital and supported by Boston Scientific, was designed for physicians with a specific interest in some of the most complex angioplasty patient cases.

Physicians travelled from all over North America to attend, including physicians from Florida, New York, Michigan, Quebec and the GTA.