New technology helps unclog leg arteries

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Eight million American adults struggle with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, every year. (WLS)

Eight million American adults struggle with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, every year. It's a build-up of plaque that blocks the blood flow in the legs, or feet. Newly-approved technology is providing quick relief to patients, while lowering the risk of side effects.

Tom Krigar, 75, loves his Labradors and the outdoors. But until a few months ago, he could barely walk without severe leg pain.

"Just grabbed your calf, like you had a muscle spasm. That's how bad it hurt sometimes," Krigar said.

Doctors diagnosed Tom with peripheral artery disease, or PAD. He underwent surgery to clear the blockage, but then doctors discovered tom's leg was worse than expected.

"He said I went in with my regular catheter and this artery is 100 percent blocked," Krigar said.

That's when vascular surgeon Bart Chess thought Tom would be a good candidate for brand new technology.

"We start by actually puncturing the artery and then inserting a wire or sheath, which is a straw that allows us to take pictures," said Dr. Chess.

It's called the Pantheris and it allows surgeons to see the plaque, then cut away and remove it during the procedure.

"The novel thing about this technology is that it affords us the opportunity to stay in the center of the vessel," Dr. Chess said.

Doctors say there is also less risk of damaging the artery wall and a better chance that the vessel will remain open.

Tom said he was on his feet quickly and pain free within weeks.

"It was like day and night," Krigar said.

The FDA approved the Pantheris in March. Surgeons use it alone, or in combination with another instrument called the ocelot to open arteries that are 100 percent blocked.

If you would like more information, check out the medical breakthroughs on the web at
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