It's one of the most common heart procedures. Doctors are making stent placement less painful with a simple sponge.
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Melissa Medalie: Just the sound of his model train engine brings Richard Wallace back to his childhood. He watched the trains every weekend while his mother cooked dinner. Richard Wallace: She died of a heart attack when she was 47, Wallace told Ivanhoe. Melissa Medalie: Wallace's health veered off track at the same stop. Richard Wallace: I had a heart attack on March 5 of my 47th year, he said. Melissa Medalie: In the last seven years, Wallace has had 25 stents in his heart. They're typically inserted through a catheter that starts in the groin and travels through the heart. Getting the catheter out can be painful. Richard Wallace: They're straddling you. There's at least two people. It feels like they're reaching in and pulling your bones out through your skin. Melissa Medalie: Cardiologist Barry Weinstock is using a new procedure to ease Wallace's pain. Dr. Barry Weinstock: It's a soft sponge that's absorbable. Melissa Medalie: A sponge is threaded through the catheter. It plugs up the hole in the artery to stop the bleeding, which eliminates the need for doctors to apply extreme pressure to the groin. Dr. Barry Weinstock: This is entirely outside the artery and it's just a soft, absorbent sponge, so there's really no danger of damage to the artery. Richard Wallace: I didn't feel a thing, Wallace said. Melissa Medalie: He needed just one day of rest. Richard Wallace: The recovery time was so much faster, he said. It was almost like, boom, it's over. Melissa Medalie: So instead of spending hours in bed, he can get back to the important details in his life. I am Melissa Medalie reporting.