LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Untreated Peripheral Vascular Disease can leave a patient in severe pain, in some cases - even result in an amputation. Now, a minimally-invasive procedure is getting the blood flowing again in patients who once had major blockages.
For several years, 72-year-old Ann Thompson lived with pain in her legs. But after an arterial bypass in her left leg, the pain in her right leg became too much for even the simplest tasks. "My mailbox is across the street and when I'd walk even to the mailbox it would hurt," says Ann, "it really hurt me."
When Dr. John Winterton, a cardiologist on staff with Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, told Ann that her peripheral vascular disease had caused an artery carrying blood through her leg to clog with plaque - she figured she'd have another bypass and stent. "I thought I would have a stent, because I have a stent in my heart," says Ann, "but he said 'no' - with this kind of disease a stent wouldn't work."
Dr. Winterton recommended that Ann undergo a minimally-invasive procedure called an "atherectomy. "If the artery's not totally occluded over a long segment" says Dr. Winterton, "the artery can be potentially opened and get nice results that are better than any of the other techniques in terms of long term."
The procedure centers on the actual scraping of plaque from the artery. Dr. Winterton says, "It's passed over a little guide wire through the blockage and actually scrapes the cholesterol plaque out, packs it into the nose cone of the catheter and it's completely removed."
Once the plaque is removed, blood flow is restored. Prior to the atherectomy, Ann had severe pain from her knee on down to her foot. Now, she's pain free and moving again. "The more I walked and the longer I walked," she says, "the better it got."
The success of the treatment depends on the patient's lifestyle choices. Dr. Winterton says smoking is a big no-no, good nutrition needs to be factored in and exercise is a must - a combination that's worked wonders in Ann. "It was immediate," she says, "the first thing I noticed was I could go to the mailbox. Now it is really good!"
Peripheral Vascular Disease is typically caused by the same risk factors that contribute to heart disease - that's diabetes and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history of heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle. For more information about treatment options for PVD, join Dr. Winterton for a free seminar next Thursday, September 24th at noon at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. Call 494-2936 to reserve your seat.