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DMC Cardiovascular Institute Physician is First in Michigan to Use New "Arterial Drill" Catheterization Technique to Remove a Major Blockage

DETROIT, Oct. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) has become the first cardiac care facility in Michigan to successfully open a patient's blocked artery with a breakthrough technology that operates like an electrically powered "corkscrew drill" to painlessly remove the plaque buildup which causes Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

The 45-minute procedure – conducted Wednesday by CVI Director of Endovascular Medicine Mahir D. Elder, M.D. – was successful in restoring uninterrupted blood flow through the patient's femoral artery, which had been obstructed with a 100-percent plaque blockage caused by PAD.

"Yesterday's successful procedure, completed without invasive surgery and requiring less than an hour, is a significant step forward in the treatment of arterial blockages triggered by chronic arterial disease," said Dr. Elder.  "For the first time in Michigan, a patient with a totally blocked artery was able to benefit from a powerful new technology that can remove even the most severe blockages – and without the cutting or stitches that are part of traditional bypass surgery.

"This patient was in danger of losing a foot – but thanks to this new procedure that we will now be using with PAD patients from all across Detroit and Southeast Michigan, that risk has been eliminated and she'll be going home in a day or two."

The patient who underwent the procedure at the DMC Cardiovascular Institute was a 50-year-old postal worker from the Detroit suburb of Livonia, said Dr. Elder.  "This patient had consulted with several physicians in recent years," he added, "and she'd been told that her only option was invasive surgery to bypass the damaged artery – which was 100-percent blocked by PAD-related plaque.  

"Fortunately, however, the new 'corkscrew catheterization' technique that was unveiled at CVI yesterday doesn't require surgery at all.  Instead, this state-of-the-art procedure uses a drill-like catheter powered by a small electric motor to remove the plaque-buildup on the walls of the artery, quickly and painlessly."

Because the breakthrough technique doesn't involve any surgery – but only the insertion of a flexible, plastic catheter into the affected artery via a tiny skin incision – most patients are spared the pain, risk of infection and extended healing-time that usually result from a surgical operation.

Yesterday's successful operation at the DMC Cardiovascular Institute was "a highly promising breakthrough in caring for patients with PAD," said CVI President Theodore L. Schreiber, M.D.  "PAD affects up to 20 million Americans today, according to the latest research data, and many of those patients are struggling with severe arterial blockages that often used to require amputation of affected limbs, and especially of the legs and feet.

"We're very pleased to be the first cardiac care center in Michigan that is now making this pioneering procedure available to patients grappling with chronic artery disease."

The new FDA-cleared catheterization tool, known as the "Avinger Wildcat Catheter," uses the automated tip rotation produced by a compatible hand-held motor (the "Avinger Juicebox") to open up the artery. The tip of the drill is inserted through the catheter directly into the affected artery.  

Composed of cholesterol and calcium deposits that are layered onto the surface of aging blood vessels over time, arterial plaque narrows the passageways through which blood flows from the heart to feed the cells of the body.  When arteries become too constricted by plaque, the result can be a heart attack, a stroke ... or eventual gangrene and amputation of limbs that are being starved by lack of blood.

"The really exciting thing about this new technology is that it can remove blockages which could never be penetrated by traditional catheters before," said Dr. Elder, who also serves as the Medical Director of the DMC Harper University Hospital Cardiac Care Unit and who has been credited with performing more endovascular surgeries per year than any other Michigan cardiac specialist.  "In the past, many patients with severe PAD had no options other than invasive bypass surgery.  Each year in this country, nearly 200,000 amputations occur as a result of PAD.  But many of those tragic amputations could be avoided – by using the cutting-edge technology now available at CVI.  

"If you or someone you care about is experiencing the symptoms of PAD (symptoms that can include sharp pain and cramping in leg muscles when walking, or chronic numbness in legs and feet), you should consult with your family doctor about the cause of the discomfort," said Dr. Elder.  

"As with so many other chronic diseases, early detection is the key to repairing the plaque-caused arterial damage that can lead to loss of a limb."

About Detroit Medical Center
The Detroit Medical Center includes DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan, DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Harper University Hospital, DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, DMC Hutzel Women's Hospital, DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital, DMC Surgery Hospital, and DMC Cardiovascular Institute. The Detroit Medical Center is a leading regional healthcare system with a mission of excellence in clinical care, research and medical education.

SOURCE Detroit Medical Center
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