A HIGH-TECH catheter has recently been successful in allowing cardiologists to see inside patients’ arteries for the first time during procedures to remove plaque build-up from inside arteries. This novel technique calls for only the diseased tissue to be removed and is consequently far safer and more effective than previous methods.
This image-guided device, Avinger’s Patheris™ Lumivascular atherectomy system, is used to treat those with peripheral artery disease (PAD): a condition caused by a build-up of plaque blocking blood flow through arteries in the patients’ feet and legs. This disease affects approximately 20 million adults in the USA, and >200 million adults globally. Among PAD patients, complications are common and often fatal, including heart attack, stroke, and even amputation.
Dr Mitul Patel, Cardiologist, University of California, San Diego, California, USA, commented: “PAD greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness, and discolouration of their extremities. This new device is a significant step forward for the treatment of PAD, with a more efficient approach for plaque removal and less radiation exposure to the doctor and patient.” The new catheter is used to see inside the arteries to enable doctors to remove the plaque during an atherectomy in order to restore normal blood flow.
This catheter uses a fibre optic camera the size of a grain of salt on its tip and is inserted through a small incision in the patient’s groin, a procedure which does not require full anaesthesia. This process allows cardiologists a view inside the artery allowing a more accurate determination of what can be removed, without impairing the wall of the artery.
One of Dr Patel’s patients recently underwent an atherectomy utilising the new catheter. They had previously been treated whilst suffering from severe scar tissue and plaque build-up in his right leg. Prior to the procedure, blood flow to the patient’s gastrocnemius muscle was limited as well as his ability to exercise and walk for even a short distance. Following on from the procedure, the patient was able to walk several miles, his quality of life markedly improved, and (with some lifestyle adjustments) he was hopeful that another blockage could be avoided in the future.