Nonsurgical restoration of coronary patency has become a reality. Successful dilation of noncalcific coronary stenoses by balloon catheter has been reported by Grüntzig et al1 and Simpson and colleagues.2 To their great credit, these investigators proceeded judiciously and without unseemly publicity. Careful preliminary work on animals and in human peripheral arteries laid the groundwork for their success, and their postdilation cineangiograms are convincing. It now seems that the currently handmade Swiss balloon catheters are becoming available to other investigators. Widespread interest will surely promote demand and large-scale manufacture.
In this issue of The Journal, Mautner and Phillips (p 1625) have neatly summarized balloon angioplasty—its technique, its early results, and its promise. They raise serious questions regarding objective benefits, particularly because the procedure seems to be indicated mainly for patients who, at least on the basis of anatomy, do well with surgery and may survive well without surgery (2%