In the wake of the current controversy concerning the value of coronary bypass surgery, alternative methods for dealing with some forms of heart disease command special attention. So it is with the recently publicized use of a balloon catheter for "relocation" of plaque in the arteries to increase their patency.
On June 15, 1978, the New York Times, Time magazine, CBS's Walter Cronkite, and the International Herald Tribune all reported on a "balloon which clears up heart arteries." A press conference on the subject had been held by Simon Stertzer, MD, head of the Hemodynamics Laboratory at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital. The four news articles tell the same story: A patient at Lenox Hill Hospital agreed to forego coronary artery bypass surgery to repair his clogged arteries and opted for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. In this procedure a small deflated balloon catheter is threaded through the narrowed artery and