Docs across U.S. shadow Lake Charles cardiologist for vein training

Dr. Carl Fastabend performs an IVUS procedure in the Cardiovascular Outpatient Center of...
Dr. Carl Fastabend performs an IVUS procedure in the Cardiovascular Outpatient Center of Southwest Louisiana. (Source: KPLC)
Updated: Mar. 31, 2017 at 7:01 AM CDT
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A Lake Charles cardiologist has become a top expert in a specialized procedure that gives relief to patients with debilitating leg pain.

Doctors from across the United States are traveling to Southwest Louisiana to watch interventional cardiologist, Dr. Carl Fastabend, with Vein Center of Southwest Louisiana/Imperial Health in action.

Dr. Fastabend has performed more than 500 IVUS procedure, or intravascular ultrasound, bringing relief from chronic leg pain to people who were told there was no other option.

"These are patients that have swollen legs, pain in their legs with walking, skin changes with skin thickening and cellulitis, even progressing sometimes to the point of skin ulceration," he said.

IVUS uses a specially-designed catheter with a tiny ultrasound probe attached to visualize what is happening in the pelvic veins.

"It's a cross-sectional image and we'll see this nice, big, round vein and as we pull back, we'll see the vein crushed or occluded and then we know what the problem is," said Dr. Fastabend.

The solution is placing stents to open the vein, letting blood drain again in the leg.

It is an outpatient procedure that takes about an hour and while it has been available in Lake Charles for several years, that is not the case in many other cities.

That is what brought Dr. Ed Leahey, an interventional cardiologist with Houston Methodist-San Jacinto, to Lake Charles to shadow Dr. Fastabend.

"I recognize the need for it in my patients and up until now, I have not been able to do it," said Dr. Leahey.  "He has provided me with the opportunity to see how he does it and ask him any kind of questions during the procedure."

Dr. Fastabend has hosted doctors from Duke University, California, Las Vegas, Houston, and the list goes on.

"It's very rewarding to think that 40 or 50 doctors have been trained by me here in Lake Charles to do this procedure across the country," he said.

It is experience Dr. Leahey looks forward to bringing home to his patients, where his practice plans to start offering this option for pain relief in the coming weeks.

"The ability to ask questions and get immediate feedback and get opinion based on his great experiences, you can't find that in a book," said Dr. Leahey.

The visiting physicians do not actually touch the patient during the procedure.  It is 100 percent shadowing over Dr. Fastabend's shoulder.

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