INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 8, 2015)--Millions of Americans have Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Blood flow becomes blocked in leg arteries because of plaque build-up. Then there's pain because muscles don't get enough blood. A new treatment could provide longer-lasting relief.
It wasn’t that long ago Anthony Giglione couldn’t walk more than 15 feet without stopping.
“It was just difficult to even go out and get the paper in the morning. I’d have to stop because the pain would become so intense,” says Giglione.
Anthony had had angioplasty last fall, a balloon used to unblock a leg artery. But he found out recently it was 99 percent blocked again. His doctor wasn’t surprised.
“If you did 10 patients, sometimes even half of them will narrow again,” says Dr. David Burkhart.
That’s why Dr. Burkhart is excited about a newly approved device. This “drug coated” balloon. A video produced by Medtronic shows how a guide wire is threaded from the groin into the artery and down to the leg blockage. Then the balloon is inserted, just like with standard angioplasty. The difference, this balloon has the drug paclitaxel on it.
“You leave it up anywhere from three to five minutes. There’s a special agent on the balloon that helps the drug permeate or diffuse into the vessel wall,” says Dr. Burkhart.
The drug minimizes the chance of scar tissue forming and the artery re-narrowing. Studies have shown that the need for a repeat procedure is reduced from roughly 20 percent to 2 percent.
A drug-coated stent is already approved for leg arteries, but Dr. Burkhart says it’s had mixed reviews.
“With the drug coated balloon, you can theoretically treat lesions a lot longer, which you often find in the leg.”
Anthony noticed an immediate difference after his procedure in late February.
“I can walk as long as I want and I have no pain. I feel like I’m 20 again.”
Anthony knows only time will tell just how successful the procedure was in keeping his artery open, and his walking pain free.