OCT Technology

Washington Regional is the first hospital in Arkansas to offer the latest version of optical coherence tomography, or OCT, a type of technology that allows cardiologists to look inside coronary arteries during a heart catheterization. "In practical terms, it's near-infrared light, which is able to look at the arteries of the heart from inside out to determine in high-resolution pictures if there is any blockage or other problems," says Dr. Zubair Ahmed, a cardiologist at Washington Regional Cardiovascular Clinic, part of the Washington Regional Walker Heart Institute.

During heart catheterization – a procedure to diagnose and treat blockages in coronary arteries – X-ray, or angiography, typically has been used to assess obstructions that affect blood flow to the heart. However, angiography images provide only a 2-dimensional view of the artery. "An angiogram is a direct visualization and there are limitations to it," Ahmed explains, likening it looking at a sheet of paper from its flat side. Viewed from the flat side, a sheet of paper gives the impression of being wide. However, if you look at the sheet of paper from its edge, from an angle, it looks narrow. "OCT can help differentiate between those two, where we are not dependent on direct visualization from the outside, but we will be able to clearly see from inside the vessel if there's a narrowing."

The technology helps distinguish what is causing the blockage in the artery, such as the type of clot or plaque, to determine what type of treatment is needed. OCT even assists in determining what size stent is needed by measuring the artery, which helps improve outcomes for patients.

"Washington Regional is one of the few medical centers in the country that will be implementing the most recent iteration of OCT, which will provide much more clarity and easier use of this technology for better care of patients," Ahmed says.

For more information or to make an appointment at Washington Regional Cardiovascular Clinic, click here.