A cutting-edge catheter is greatly improving treatment for the estimated eight million Americans who suffer from peripheral artery disease, or PAD. Clogged arteries in the legs cause pain and increase the chances of heart attack or stroke.
A few months ago, Melody Adamo couldn’t have imagined being able to stroll out her door, pain-free.
Adamo said, “I could only walk so far and my thigh would hurt and even into my hip. So I knew I wasn’t getting enough circulation.”
She also had a foot wound that hadn’t healed for five years and, she needed to walk to recover from heart bypass surgery. So when Mitul Patel, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at UC San Diego Health, suggested using a state of the art catheter that could let him see the plaque buildup directly inside her leg arteries, Adamo was all in.
“It gives you very nice detailed images inside of the artery and allows you to focus your cutting on diseased segments rather than cutting healthy part of the artery,” explained Dr. Patel.
Inside the artery, a camera the size of a grain of salt shows exactly where the plaque is. He cuts it away with the blade, which is rotating a thousand times a minute. The plaque is stored inside the nose cone and removed.
Dr. Patel detailed, “Long term, our hope is using this catheter does save time because it doesn’t require patients to come back for recurring procedures. That’s one of the Achilles heels of our current therapy for arterial disease.”
Adamo said relief was immediate. She still has some discomfort, but it doesn’t get in the way of her doing what she loves.
Late last year, the FDA expanded its approval of the Pantheris, allowing the catheter to be used for both diagnostic imaging and treatment of PAD. Right now, the Pantheris is only FDA approved for use in the legs, but Dr. Patel anticipates it being modified for larger vessels in the future.