INDIANAPOLIS — Close to 8.5 million Americans suffer with a kind of leg pain called Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD. It can make walking difficult and if left untreated can lead to amputation.
“PAD is essentially a blood flow blockage that could happen anywhere outside the heart. Typically, it presents in the legs, lower legs and it affects between 8 and 12 million Americans every year. What happens from PAD is, only about a third of the patients exhibit symptoms that spur them to check with their doctor. Symptoms could be pain when you’re walking, your leg is cold, your foot is cold. It could be numbness in your leg. It could even be ulcers. Or you could have cuts on your foot or your leg, that don’t heal,” says Mark Breedlove.
Breedlove is the vice president of the vascular division of Cook Medical. Cook Medical, based in Bloomington, Indiana has an FDA-approved device that can provide relief for patients with PAD. Their device is called the Zilver PTX.
“So Zilver PTX is really a unique technology,” says Breedlove. “Because it takes a stent that they use in your heart, but much larger, and we’ve added a drug to it as well. It’s a combination device-the scaffolding holds the vessel open but then a drug that helps prevent re-narrowing of the artery.”
The procedure can be done in an operating room under local anesthesia. It involves a guide from the groin or hip area tracking down the patients’ leg to where the blockage is. The stent will go over the top of that wire guide. Once it’s in place everything is removed and that’s essentially it.
“PTX is the medication embedded in the stent,” says Breedlove. “It stands for Paclitaxel and is released from the stent to prevent scar tissue formation in the blood vessel that can re-obstruct the artery. Paclitaxel is a cancer drug that they use for breast cancer treatment. But we use it in much smaller doses.”
Cook Medical continues to track the use of its Zilver PTX and shares data with physicians who consider using it on their patients.
The first line of treatment for many PAD patients is a blood thinner to prevent clots. Patients are encouraged to walk and control their diet. But for those with debilitating pain, the Zilver PTX may be a good solution.