Emory Crawford Long Hospital (ECLH) is one of the first hospitals in the country to offer a new outpatient treatment option and procedure for people suffering with peripheral artery disease or PAD.
PAD is a life-threatening condition where plaque builds up in the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the arms and legs, hardening and narrowing those arteries and causing poor circulation. In severe cases, patients can even lose a limb because of lack of circulation.
The minimally invasive procedure uses a newly FDA-approved device, which grinds or sands away the plaque in the arteries to restore blood flow. The body then absorbs the tiny plaque particles, eliminating the need for any assisted removal of the plaque.
"This new device is ideal for patients who have heavily calcified plaque blockages, which other technology cannot remove because the calcification is too hard," says Khusrow Niazi, MD, FACC, assistant professor of medicine, division of cardiology, Emory University School of Medicine and interventional cardiologist at the Carlyle Fraser Heart Center at Emory Crawford Long Hospital.
Dr. Niazi performed one of the first procedures in the country using the new device following FDA approval.
Last year, Dr. Niazi was involved in a multi-center research study testing the safety and effectiveness of this new technology. Twenty-four patients at ECLH underwent the procedure, which helped the FDA to approve this device.
"Patients who have diabetes, renal failure, or who are heavy smokers are the best candidates for this procedure because their blockages lead to heavy calcified plaque build-up," says Dr. Niazi.
The device, called the Diamondback 360° Orbital Atherectomy System by Cardiovascular Systems, Inc., uses a unique orbital motion with a diamond coated "crown" to sand away the plaque. As the crown rotates and the orbit increases, centrifugal force action presses the crown against the plaque, removing a small amount of plaque with each orbit. The orbital motion creates a smooth vessel opening to improve blood flow. Blockages between the knee and ankle are most commonly removed using this device.
During the procedure, the device is inserted into the patient's groin through a catheter and tunneled down to the blocked artery. Live X-ray and contrast dye are used to locate the blockage. Following the procedure, patients either go home the same day or spend one night in the hospital.
"We believe this new technology will help us greatly in the fight against PAD," says Dr. Niazi. "We hope it will help us improve the quality of lives for our patients, as well as save their limbs."
Eight to 12 million people in the U.S. suffer from PAD, which can cause debilitating pain in the legs and numbness in the feet. It is estimated that less than two million people are actually diagnosed with PAD and less than 700,000 are treated each year.
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