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St. Luke’s Medical Center is the first hospital in Arizona, and among the first in the nation, to offer a cutting-edge treatment that provides relief for patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a common condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of legs or feet. The addition of the new technology is part of the hospital’s continuing commitment to bring patients better treatment options and improve overall outcomes.

Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Pantheris™ lumivascular atherectomy system, developed by Avinger, is an innovative image-guided therapy that, for the first time ever, allows physicians to see and remove plaque simultaneously during atherectomy procedures, which involve cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.

Ajay Mhatre, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Phoenix Heart Center, was the first physician in Arizona to use the new Pantheris lumectomy catheter during a procedure on March 10 on an 80-year-old diabetic patient.

Mesa snowbird Larry Horak endured years of severe contractions in his left calf, which seemed to occur randomly, whether drinking water or exercising. While he attributed the contractions to a spasm or charley horse, Horak was suffering from PAD, which was diagnosed by Dr. Mhatre.

Larry had intense pain in his toe one evening and, although it was red, he thought it would dissipate by morning, but instead the pain intensified and his toe turned black. Larry had a serious staph infection and was heading down the road to an amputation.

Knowing his age and diabetic condition, Dr. Mhatre also discovered poor blood flow and immediately realized Horak would be the perfect candidate for this breakthrough treatment, as both of the patient’s arteries were severely blocked. Patients commonly diagnosed with PAD are typically over the age of 60 and have a history of smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or atherosclerosis.

Mhatre says peripheral artery disease is a devastating and deadly condition that detrimentally impacts the quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness, discoloration and immense pain.

In terms of outcomes, the safety and advanced precision of the Pantheris technology may potentially reduce the need for follow-up procedures and stents.

This technology is a game changer in the treatment of PAD. Clinical studies have shown that not only does this new technology significantly reduce the recurrence of PAD, but procedures have avoided vessel perforation, dissection and late aneurysm.

In addition to these benefits, Pantheris’ radiation-free technology may help minimize radiation exposure to clinicians and patients by decreasing use of fluoroscopy.

PAD impacts nearly 20 million adults in the U.S. and is a costly disease with treatment estimated to cost up to $389 billion, more than the costs for diabetes and coronary disease, as well as all cancers combined. Often dismissed as normal signs of aging, the disease can become so severe and difficult to address with traditional treatments that patients and physicians often resort to undergoing invasive bypass surgeries, which can result in even higher health risks and lengthy, painful recoveries. In severe cases, patients often face amputation.

 

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