Atherectomy And The Treatment of PAD
Atherectomy And The Treatment of PAD: According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease has become our nation’s most costly chronic disease. It is also the leading cause of death in the United States.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries in the legs. Cardiovascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis, or fatty deposits in the artery wall. As these deposits, known as plaques build up, the arteries become narrower and the amount of blood the artery can transport decreases. Depending on the artery involved, these blockages can lead to serious medical issues. When this occurs in the coronary arteries (coronary artery disease or CAD) it can cause a heart attack. In the carotid arteries a severe blockage (cerebrovascular disease) can lead to a stroke. In the legs such a blockage can cause pain, or even lead to amputation (PAD).
Atherectomy And The Treatment of PAD : What are the symptoms of PAD?
PAD is insidious. It develops slowly, as do the symptoms it causes. As a result, many people write off the symptoms of PAD as due to aging or perhaps arthritis. The earliest symptom of PAD is usually cramping in the lower leg with exercise. We call this claudication. As the arteries get narrower, the distance a person with PAD can walk gets shorter and shorter. At these earlier stages the cramping or pain goes away with some rest. The cramping can also become a burning or stabbing pain in the leg. When the problem becomes critical a patient may even experience pain while resting or at night while sleeping. At very advanced stages, non-healing ulcers, toes turning blue or black, and/or loss of sensation in the leg or foot signals irreversible injury that often leads to amputation. At this point, the blood supply has become so limited that the cells in the leg cannot survive and the tissues of the leg start dying or develop and infection which cannot be treated with antibiotics, a condition known as gangrene.
Other symptoms related to PAD include:
- Slow or non-healing wounds
- Slow nail growth of the toes or hair growth on the legs
- Erectile dysfunction
It is important to note that often people with PAD may have no symptoms or mistake symptoms they are experiencing for something else. People with diabetes and PAD are at increased risk, as they often cannot feel the warning sign of leg pain. Diabetics also are more likely to develop non-healing wounds.
Aside from diabetes, other risk factors for PAD include smoking, high blood pressure, advanced age, high cholesterol and a family history of vascular disease.
But there is good news.
Although PAD is a potentially life-threatening disease, it can be managed or even reversed with the proper treatment. At early stages, PAD may be reversible with medical therapy and diet and lifestyle changes. At later stages, there are minimally invasive treatments that can be employed to restore adequate blood flow to the legs. We should also know about Atherectomy And The Treatment of PAD.
Atherectomy For Treating Peripheral Artery Disease
At Vivid Vascular we perform many procedures for PAD. Here, we are going to discuss a procedure called an atherectomy. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia in our state-of-the art cath lab and patients go home the same day of the same of the procedure.
During the procedure, a special catheter is inserted into the blocked artery through a small puncture in the skin and artery. Once the catheter reaches the area of narrowing the plaque is then scraped with the catheter blade and collected into a chamber in the tip of the catheter, decreasing and/or eliminating the blockage from the artery.
In some cases, it may be necessary to perform an angioplasty (that is inflation of a small balloon inside the artery) to help expand the artery, or place a stent (a metal mesh tube) to hold the artery open. These procedures are done in our state of the art cath lab in the comfort of the office.
Atherectomy And The Treatment of PAD : How Do I Prepare For The Procedure?
These procedures are minimally invasive and not painful. Even so, they sometimes require 2 or 3 hours and can be stressful or cause the patient anxiety. For this reason, we sedate patients during these procedures for their comfort. We therefore have the patient not eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. Normal medications may be taken with a sip of water. A patient may need to get labs drawn before these procedures as well.
How Long Does An Atherectomy Take?
Generally, an atherectomy takes about two hours, preparation and recovery time adds several hours to the overall procedure time. One the procedure is completed, the patient will need to stay in the office for three to six hours. Since the procedure is done in our catheter lab, there is no need for a hospital stay. The patient goes home the same day to recover in the comfort of their own home.
What Happens After An Atherectomy?
Generally patients return to light activity the next day and full activity the day after that. At Vivid Vascular, Dr. Gropper and his highly specialized team will assist you through your specific recovery process for optimal results.
Patient Care Coordinators and Dr. Gropper himself are available to patients via text or phone for ease of communication to help address and answer any questions or concerns post procedure.
I’d Like More Information About Peripheral Artery Disease
If you found this blog post informative and you’d like to learn more about peripheral artery disease, read our other PAD related blog posts.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Adam Gropper, request an appointment here
If you think that you are experiencing symptoms or are at risk of peripheral artery disease, please get evaluated by a physician specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular diseases like PAD