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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ? Have a heart problem? If it's fixable, there's a good chance it can be done without surgery, using tiny tools and devices that are pushed through tubes into blood vessels.

Heart care is in the midst of a transformation. Many problems that once required sawing through the breastbone and opening up the chest for open heart surgery now can be treated with a nip, twist or patch through a tube.

These minimal procedures used to be done just to unclog arteries and correct less common heart rhythm problems. Now some patients are getting such repairs for valves, irregular heartbeats, holes in the heart and other defects ? without major surgery. Doctors even are testing ways to treat high blood pressure with some of these new approaches.

All rely on catheters ? hollow tubes that let doctors burn away and reshape heart tissue or correct defects through small holes in blood vessels.

"This is the replacement for the surgeon's knife. Instead of opening the chest, we're able to put catheters in through the leg, sometimes through the arm," said Dr. Spencer King of St. Joseph's Heart and Vascular Institute in Atlanta. He is former president of the American College of Cardiology. Its conference earlier this month featured research on these novel devices.

"Many patients after having this kind of procedure in a day or two can go home" rather than staying in the hospital while a big wound heals, he said. It may lead to cheaper treatment, although the initial cost of the novel devices often offsets the savings from shorter hospital stays.

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Looks like Star Trek type medicine is coming to heart repair. Not a minute too soon either.

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We need those nanobots that can go thru you and clean out the bad stuff. ;)

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And reprogram you to think like the Borg. :p

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We do this all the time where I work. It is indeed amazing medicine.

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We do this all the time where I work. It is indeed amazing medicine.

One of the areas under my supervision was angiocardiology and yes, the technologies in that department are amazing. They're also moving so fast that keeping up is a major effort. Quite a change for those of us who started out cutting & forming our own catheters from bulk tubing and using M1 Eyeballs & 35mm cine cameras instead of DSA and 3D CCTA.

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