Lifewatch: Total occlusion

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - There's a new procedure to open blocked arteries, which could give hope for the 200,000 people in the United States facing amputations this year.

The same concept behind drilling for oil is now being used in a revolutionary life and limb saving procedure called total occlusion.  It was approved by the FDA earlier this year.

"This particular device is uniquely designed so that it can actually drill through areas inside a blood vessel that have been completely blocked," said Avinger Wildcat Catheter Inventor Dr. John Simpson.

During the procedure, cardiologist Dr. King White used x-ray images on the screen in the operating room to track the artery and the path of the wildcat device.

"This goes into the blocked artery, it crosses the blockage and once we're across, then we're able to put our balloon and our stent in and stretch the artery open," said White.

By turning the catheter, the drill spins through an artery that had been 100 percent blood.

Within half an hour the patient, who had been in pain with every step she took, will be pain free and home by the end of the day.

"The patient results are so extraordinary and it's the physician's ultimate fantasy to save somebody's life or to save their limb and this gives us that chance to prevent amputations, which is really extraordinary," said Simpson.

White said the results he's seen will change patients' lives.

The total occlusion is an outpatient procedure and only involves an incision that is about two millimeters in diameter.

It is important that if you are at risk for a possbile amputation, seek a second opinion - this procdure could save your limb.