The first percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) and stenting was done at the CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Alice for the first time on Thursday.

PTCA is a minimally invasive procedure that is done to open up blocked coronary arteries, allowing blood to circulate to the heart.

Alice resident Margaret Brock, 74, who has medical issues with her heart, was the first to have the procedure at Alice hospital. She has undergone PTCA and stenting several times since 2010.

Dr. Suraj Kamat, M.D. F.A.C.C., performed the procedure on Brock, but always in Corpus Christi due to state laws. According to Kamat, the state requirements stated the hospital needed a surgical backup when the procedure was done.

The Alice hospital does not have a surgical backup. However, due to recent changes in the law Kamat could perform PTCA on Brock.

“Studies have found that the procedures have become safer,” Dr. Kamat said. “If anything should happen we have the equipment to stabilize the patient and fly them to a Corpus hospital.”

Brock went into the hospital recently after she experienced chest pressure, tiredness and was short of breath.

“I couldn't even walk to the bathroom without losing my breath,” Brock stated. “As soon as (Kamat) did the procedure I could breathe easily. The pressure was gone.”

Before Brock could undergo such a procedure doctors had to place a pacemaker.

“There were times that her heartbeat was really fast,” Kamat stated. “We would give her medication and her heartbeat would go to slow.”

“The pacemaker will ensure her heart beats regularly so Margaret can take her medication correctly,” he said.

The PTCA procedure begins with the doctor injecting some local anesthesia into the groin area and putting a stent, a balloon to open the blocked artery.

“As technology advances so do our medical practices here at Alice,” Kamat said. “Margaret was a good candidate for the procedure.”

Recovery time depends on the patient and some can be released as early as 2 hours.

Brock was kept in the hospital for observation for 24 hours for precaution because of her pacemaker.

She was released in time for Christmas.