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Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Released From Hospital, One Day After Receiving Stent
Procedure Done via Wrist; Expected to Be Back on the Bench Monday
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Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
November 27, 2014 (updated) -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, was released from the hospital this morning, one day after a stent was placed in her right coronary artery (RCA). According to yesterday's official statement from the Supreme Court, "The coronary blockage was discovered after Justice Ginsburg experienced discomfort during routine exercise last night and was taken to the hospital. She is resting comfortably and is expected to be discharged in the next 48 hours." It was only 24 hours.

Justice Ginsburg joins the ranks of many national leaders who have benefitted from interventional cardiology procedures, among them, Bill Clinton (who nominated Justice Ginsburg for the Supreme Court), George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and fellow Justice Anthony Kennedy, not to mention numerous celebrities, such as rocker David Bowie and comedians Rosie O'Donnell and Dana Carvey.

A stent placement or angioplasty is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure. General anesthesia is not required and the patient remains awake. A stent placement can be performed relatively quickly and patients are typically discharged within a day or two, although some hospitals, especially those using the transradial wrist approach, are routinely discharging uncomplicated cases the same day. In fact, according to Nina Totenberg of NPR, Justice Ginsburg's procedure was done via the radial artery in the wrist. Kathleen Arberg, the Supreme Court's public information officer, stated that "Justice Ginsburg expects to be on the bench on Monday."

According to the American Heart Association, over 600,000 stent placements, also called percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI), are performed annually in the United States. In a PCI, a thin catheter is introduced either through the femoral artery in the groin or the radial artery in the wrist and advanced to the heart where contrast dye is injected to image the coronary circulation. If a significant blockage is located, a balloon can be inflated to open the blockage and a stent placed to keep that section of the artery open.

The coronary catheterization procedure was performed at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, a long-time pioneering institution in the field of interventional cardiology. The first annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) meetings originated from Washington Hospital Center over 25 years ago, and the center remains on the cutting edge of education and research into innovative technologies, such as intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), fractional flow reserve (FFR), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), transradial access, and more. The hospital currently organizes the annual Cardiovascular Research Technologies (CRT) four-day interventional cardiology meeting. The hospital also is listed on Angioplasty.Org's Transradial Hospital Locator, a directory of over 300 hospitals where the radial wrist approach is performed.

You can read interviews on Angioplasty.Org about some of these technologies with two of the leading cardiologists at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute: Dr. Ron Waksman and Dr. Augusto Pichard.

Reported by Burt Cohen, November 26, 2014 (updated 11-27-2014)