(09/12/12) - When you think of clogged arteries, stroke and heart attack are probably the first things that come to mind. But blockages in other places can be dangerous too. Now, a new tool is making it easier to remove clogs with less risk.
When arteries are clogged, the doctor's job is to removed the plaque and un-block them.
"We used a special device to shave off the plaque and open up the blockage," says Dr. Mahir Elder of Wayne State University's medical school.
Similar to a blockage you'd find in a clogged heart, plaque can also build up in arteries in the leg- the result of peripheral arterial disease, or PAD.
"This is a very critical disease that is obstructing blood supply to the feet," Dr. Elder says.
Between eight and 10 million Americans have PAD. Every year it costs 200,000 their limbs.
That was Joe Kalish's great worry. "Oh, I was fearful of amputation."
Joe has been struggling with PAD for more than a decade. "I'd walk from the bedroom to the living room and I had to sit down. My legs would just ache."
Recently Joe took part in the Connect-Two trial, led in part by Dr. Elder. The trail is looking at the Ocelot.
It is a device, Dr. Elder says, will give him and other surgeons, a new view inside vessels. "It uses ultrasound technology as it swipes in a 360 degree motion and subsequently giving us a three dimensional image. It is a game changer because now we can identify the vessel anatomy while we're inside the vessel."
Dr. Elder uses Ocelot images to help him stay in the middle of the vessel while he shaves away the build up or blasts it with a laser. The more centered he is, the better chances the artery will not close up again.
"The trial has shown that the patients are getting better results right away," Elder said.
As for Joe, his circulation is back and his pain is almost completely gone. "It's great. It's like a child doing his first steps all over again that's how great it makes me feel."
The technique awaits FDA approval, but hospitals that took part in the study are allowed to treat patients with the Ocelot. For information about the Ocelot, and the nearest locations it is available, email Avinger, the company that makes the device at firstname.lastname@example.org
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