Removing plaque from clogged arteries is a common procedure that can save and improve lives. This treatment approach was recently made even safer and more effective with a new, high-tech catheter that allows cardiologists to see inside the arteries for the first time, cutting out only the diseased tissue. Interventional cardiologists at Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center at UC San Diego Health are the first in the region to use this technology.
The new image-guided device, Pantheris Lumivascular atherectomy system, allows doctors to see and remove plaque simultaneously during an atherectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.
The new technology treats patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of the legs and feet, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the extremities. Patients with PAD frequently develop life threatening complications, including heart attack, stroke, and in some severe cases, patients may even face amputation.
‘Peripheral artery disease greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness and discoloration of their extremities,’ said Mitul Patel, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health. ‘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.’
X-ray technology was previously used during similar procedures, but those images are not nearly as clear and do not allow visualization inside the blood vessel. The new catheter, with a fibre-optic camera the size of a grain of salt on the tip, is fed through a small incision in the groin that does not require full anesthesia. Once inside, the interventional cardiologist is able to see exactly what needs to be removed without damaging the artery wall, which can cause further narrowing.
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