Diamonds on the operating table

Posted at 9:40 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 21:40:44-04

Recently-retired family man John Maletto said he never felt any symptoms, but after a stress test doctors found some of his arteries to be completely blocked forcing them to operate.

“There was a lot of calcium buildup,” said Dr. Augusto Villa, an interventional cardiologist at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.

Villa said Maletto’s blood flow, to and from his heart, was being obstructed putting him at risk for a serious heart attack.  In order to put a stent in to open up the artery and allow blood to flow again, Villa had to first clear out the plaque.  To do that he used the Diamondback360, sanding the plaque, breaking through blocked arteries with a diamond-coated crown.  It spins at up to 120,000 RPM.

“The reason why you use diamonds is because it’s going to cut much better into the calcium it’s so solid it’s so rigid,” said Villa. 

Dr. Villa was one of the first in South Florida to try the new tool and with it, he said, results are drastically better and faster.  “It helps tremendously,” he said.

What used to take three hours, said Villa, doctors can now do in only one.  He said it can help any patient with coronary artery disease.

“It really is amazing the technology,” said Maletto.  “My father and mother, grandparents, they were not so fortunate.  These things didn’t exist and I’m lucky.  I’m very lucky.”

Now Maletto can return to the retired life he loves, and most importantly return to his family.

“I’m happy that I’m still here,” he said.

Dr. Villa said most patients who get the procedure will be held in the hospital for one night. 

The size of the diamond-coated crown is 1.25 millimeters.