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Endovascular Therapies Offer Minimally Invasive Alternative for Peripheral Artery Disease

  • April 23, 2012
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ST. LOUIS - Peripheral artery disease (PAD) affects thousands of people each year. Patients can suffer debilitating pain in their legs that can lead to serious complications.

While multiple treatment options exist to treat PAD, new therapies at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center are giving patients a minimally-invasive option.

Endovascular therapy, using balloons and stents, is being used in a growing number of patients.

The endovascular procedure, called a percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) of the femoral arteries opens the blocked or narrowed femoral artery to restore blood flow to the lower leg without open vascular surgery. A special catheter is inserted with a tiny balloon at its tip and is inflated once the catheter has been placed into the narrowed area of the artery. The inflation of the balloon compresses the fatty tissue in the artery and makes a larger opening for the blood to flow through. Then a stent (a tiny, expandable metal coil) is inserted into the newly opened area of the artery to help keep it from narrowing or closing again.

Typically, stents are used in patients who have less severe, less extensive disease, whereas a more invasive bypass surgery is recommended for patients with more extensive blockages.

“The primary benefits of an endovascular approach are a much shorter recovery period and the patients leave the hospital the same day,” says Brian Rubin, MD, Washington University vascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Dr. Rubin says patients usually don’t notice symptoms until their 50s or 60s. Initial symptoms include cold feet or crampy calf muscle pain with walking.

Not all PAD patients are candidates for an endovascular approach. For more information, visit http://www.barnesjewish.org/heart-vascular/peripheral-artery-disease.

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital is 1,288 bed teaching hospital affiliated with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. The hospital has a 1,763 member medical staff with many recognized as "Best Doctors in America." Barnes-Jewish is a member of BJC HealthCare, which provides a full range of health care services through its 13 hospitals and more than 100 health care sites in Missouri and Illinois. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is also consistently ranked as one of America’s “Best Hospitals” by U.S.News & World Report.

Contact:
Jason Merrill
314-286-0302
jmerrill@bjc.org

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