Delivering care through collaboration

Scottish first as AI used in life-saving procedures for heart patients

September 29, 2021

NHS Golden Jubilee patients who need stents fitted in their heart arteries are the first in Scotland to have the procedure performed using guided artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Skilled cardiologists are using software which merges existing Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) with the power of AI for enhanced visualisation to make quicker and more accurate decisions during planned percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures to treat coronary artery disease.

Using both tools together gives cardiologists a comprehensive view inside patients’ heart arteries, helping them to determine the best treatment for arterial calcification.

The Ultreon 1.0 Software improves the speed of procedures, using infrared lasers and AI to measure how much of the artery is diseased and the size of stent required.

Combined, this helps ensure that stents are more accurately fitted – leading to improved long term outcomes for heart patients.

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist Dr Stuart Watkins said: “As people get older they can develop hardening of the heart arteries due to calcification.

“This makes treating the arteries difficult for cardiologists because calcium is very hard and it can limit the expansion of our stents.

“It’s very important to identify calcification in the heart arteries, which isn’t always apparent from doing a basic coronary angiogram.

“OCT gives us extremely detailed pictures within the arteries so that we can pick up calcification and determine the best treatment strategy before we put stents in.

“Ultreon helps us quickly measure how much of the artery is diseased and what size of stent you have to put in, without taking too much time to do it.”

One of the first patients treated with the new technology at NHS Golden Jubilee was 85-year-old Chris Stevenson, a retired mechanical engineer originally from Duntocher, West Dunbartonshire, but now living in Larkhall, Lanarkshire.

Chris has suffered from heart problems since the age of 50, but when his condition worsened recently, he needed to have 4 stents fitted.

Chris, who was awake for the full 3-hour procedure, said: “I’ve been taking things quite slowly at the moment. My wife Betty won’t even let me do my normal chores, but I feel fantastic.

“I’ve also had 2 knee replacements so I haven’t been able to do the hillwalking I love, but I would like to get back to just being able to go out and keep active, so hopefully this latest treatment will help me do that.

“I know how hard the specialists worked for me, as well as all the staff who booked me in and cared for me on the ward. I can’t praise them highly enough, they were amazing.”

The technology is created by global healthcare company Abbott.

Jonathan Wood, General Manager, North Europe at Abbott, said: “We’re really excited to have this software at one of Scotland’s leading centres for patients with heart conditions.

“Our Ultreon 1.0 Software aims to improve both the physician and patient experience through a systematic process that reduces variability and increases accuracy of diagnosis.

“When increased adoption of OCT imaging combines with advanced technology like AI, it allows cardiologists to support coronary stent patients in a more precise and measurable way.”

NHS Golden Jubilee Medical Director Dr Mark MacGregor said: “This new technology is an excellent advancement in treating coronary heart disease.

“As well as allowing for far more detailed imaging before carrying out vital treatment for patients, this software allows for more efficient procedures, and the potential for significantly improved long term outcomes.

“We are delighted to now be offering this to patients across Scotland, and look forward to more exciting innovations to come.”

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