The monorail technique allows monitoring of all steps of the coronary angioplasty procedure by high quality coronary angiography; easy, rapid, and safe recrossing and redilatation of the lesion if necessary; and stepwise dilatation of a stenosis with sequential increase of size of balloons. Transstenotic pressure differences cannot, however, be measured through the narrow shaft of the standard monorail balloon catheter. The monorail technique was used in 1014 patients (820 men, 194 women; mean age 57.8 years (range 24 to 84]. The indication for coronary angioplasty was stable angina in 52%, unstable angina in 40%, and acute myocardial infarction in 8%. Single vessel coronary angioplasty was attempted in 78%, multilesion coronary angioplasty in 11%, and multivessel coronary angioplasty in 11%. Angiographic success (reduction of stenosis to less than 50% of the luminal diameter) of all attempted lesions was achieved in 93%. The technique was clinically successful--that is, angiographic success of all attempted lesions, no occurrence of a major complication (death, myocardial infarction, acute bypass surgery), and improvement of symptoms--in 92% and partially successful in 1.3%. The clinical success rates were similar for stable angina (91%) and unstable angina (94%), but were somewhat lower for acute myocardial infarction (88%). Failure without major complication occurred in 3.4% of the patients. Failure with a major complication occurred in 3.3% (death 0.3%, myocardial infarction 2.4%, and acute bypass surgery 2.3%). The total major complication rate was higher in unstable angina (4.2%) than in stable angina (3.0%). These results indicate that the monorail technique can be applied safely and effectively for coronary angioplasty of patients with stable angina, unstable angina, and acute myocardial infarction.
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