Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital Offers New Minimally Invasive Treatment for Patients with Peripheral Artery Disease

Nov 28, 2016

Procedure to precisely remove plaque while avoiding healthy arteries allows Tucson man to resume his passion for inline skating

Tucson, AZ - October  14, 2016 – Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital is among the first in Arizona to offer a new treatment recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide relief for patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease, or PAD – a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of legs or feet. 

The device which is a lumivascular atherectomy system, is an innovative image-guided therapy that, for the first time ever, allows physicians to see and remove plaque simultaneously during atherectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow. 

The device incorporates real-time optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging on a therapeutic catheter – like having a small camera on the tip of the device. This allows physicians to remove the plaque more precisely than ever before, with less risk of damage to the artery walls, which can result in aggressive scarring that greatly increases the risk of restenosis, or re-narrowing of the artery. In the past, physicians have had to rely on X-ray as well as touch and feel to guide their tools while they try to treat complicated arterial disease. 

After enduring years of increasingly debilitating pain caused by PAD, Steve Johnson had the new outpatient procedure at St. Joseph’s. Less than two weeks later, he was back out on The Loop, resuming his passion for inline skating.

“For the first time in seven years, I’ve been able to skate without horrible pain,” says Johnson, a Minnesota native who was raised on ice skating but discovered inline skating in Tucson about 15 years ago. “It was as if my leg was knotting up to the point that I couldn’t walk. At its worst, I couldn’t go half a mile without having to stop and try to stretch it out. Before that, I’d been used to skating 10, 15, 20 miles on The Loop with my friends.”

“Peripheral artery disease is a common, costly and often debilitating disease that greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness, discoloration and pain,” said Dr. Eric Berens, Vascular Surgeon at Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, who performed Johnson’s surgery. “We are excited to have this new technology, which is a significant step forward for the treatment of the condition, enabling a more precise removal of the plaque that is the cause of the symptoms of PAD.” 

For patients like Johnson, this safe and more-precise treatment may potentially reduce the need for follow-up procedures and stents. 

“I was so happy to be able to get back to skating; the pain had taken the fun out of it for me,” says Johnson. “Dr. Berens and all of the nurses at the hospital were great. The care I received there was excellent.”

Peripheral artery disease affects nearly 20 million adults in the U.S.[1] and over 200 million people globally.[2] PAD is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries that blocks blood flow to the legs and feet.  Often dismissed as normal signs of aging, symptoms of PAD include painful cramping, numbness or discoloration in the legs or feet. PAD can become so severe and difficult to address with traditional treatments that patients and physicians often resort to undergoing invasive bypass surgeries, which can result in even higher health risks and lengthy, painful recoveries. In severe cases, patients often face amputation, the worst-case scenario associated with PAD.

Kelly Raach
Director of Marketing

[1] The Sage Group releases New Estimates for the United States Prevalence of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) and Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI). The Sage Group. September 30, 2010.

[2] Fowkes FG, Rudan D, Rudan I, et al. “Comparison of global estimates of prevalence and risk factors for peripheral artery disease in 2000 and 2010: a systematic review and analysis.” Lancet 2013; 382:1329.

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