Hypertension is most commonly treated pharmacologically, but in many cases, this might not be enough. An older surgical option, sympathectomy, is rather invasive, involves a comparatively long recovery period, and has many side effects. However, a new type of treatment, renal denervation, is now being made available in select medical institutions, including Sheba Medical Center.
The kidneys are part of the body’s blood pressure regulation mechanism, and overactive nerves surrounding the renal arteries are thought to be one of the major causes of high blood pressure. Nevertheless, these nerves can be ablated to help the kidneys better manage blood pressure.
Renal denervation (RDN) is a minimally invasive procedure that involves the intravenous insertion of a multi-electrode renal denervation catheter that ablates the renal artery nerves with heat generated from a radiofrequency current. The procedure does not require anesthetization since radiofrequency currents do not directly stimulate nerves. Recent studies indicate that RDN may help achieve a sustained reduction in blood pressure, independent of patient medication adherence.
For the first time at Sheba Medical Center, a 60-year-old patient suffering from hypertension was successfully treated with this innovative procedure. “The procedure is designed to help patients who do not respond to medication or suffer from side effects as a result of medication use. This marks a major breakthrough for patients that, up to now, were regarded as ‘ticking time bombs,’” says Prof. Jonathan Sharabi, Deputy Director of the Department of Internal Medicine and Director of the Hypertension Unit at Sheba Medical Center, who added: “The use of advanced technologies plays an integral part in the process of shaping the medicine of the future, and also enables us to provide hope for many patients.”