April 5, 2006 12:00
Medicinenet.com says an angiogram is simply an x-ray image of blood vessels after they are filled with a contrast material. A coronary angiogram is the "gold standard" for the evaluation of coronary artery disease. And medlineplus.gov says angioplasty is a medical procedure in which a balloon is used to open narrowed or blocked blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries). It is not considered to be a type of surgery.

Technically the above procedures could be considered surgery, but in actuality the first is a widely used diagnostic test and the second procedure is used in conjunction with the first as a "non-surgery" alternative to improve the effects of coronary artery diesese.

When a patient is referred to a cardiologist by their primary care physician, it is usually because the primary care physician believes there is an underlying cardiology problem that needs specialized attention.

Dr. Mehmood Patel is being accused of performing unnecessary "surgeries" as defined above ("News Briefs: A Turn for the Worse," March 29). These "surgeries" are in fact widely used throughout the profession of cardiology. They are extremely commonplace and are generally regarded as safe.

From firsthand knowledge I do know the following about Dr. Patel: 12.5 years ago, he saved my wife's life. He was her cardiologist for the next 9.5 years, and I can say unequivocally that he never performed an unnecessary procedure on her (she would have been an excellent candidate for one, though). He is a very kind, compassionate and caring physician. He had an extremely busy practice that would easily explain the volume of the procedures he performed. I know first hand that he often worked 15 or more hours per day.

I will withhold judgment of the good doctor until hard proof is shown. I will not give in to hearsay, sensationalism, or greed in my judgment of him. If Dr. Patel erred at all, I hope that it was on the side of caution in the treatment of his patients. I have to wonder how many of Dr. Patel's patients are alive today because of the "unnecessary" procedures that were performed on them.

Good luck to you, Dr. Patel.