First ever angioplasty performed in the NT

"We are behind but not any longer as of the last couple of days," Health Minister Robyn Lambley told reporters at Royal Darwin Hospital on Thursday.

"It's a major milestone."

Robert Motzel, 65, this week became the NT's first angioplasty patient, with a stent inserted to open an artery that was 90% occluded.

"I can't understand why it hasn't been done sooner [in the NT]," he said.

Up until 2009, the Australian Cardiac Society guidelines wouldn't allow angioplasties to be performed in remote places, said Dr Robert Parker, vice-president of the NT's Australian Medical Association.

The territory wasn't able to fulfil certain requirements due to its isolation, such as organising emergency transport for people who suffered complications.

"There is a population base for a cardio-thoracic surgeon between Darwin and Alice Springs, and with the high level of morbidity in the indigenous population with rheumatic heart disease

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