Cool Laser System Removes Artery Blockages to Restore Blood Flow
Huguley Memorial Medical Center now offers laser atherectomy, a treatment option for patients suffering from blocked coronary or peripheral arteries, which are common circulatory problems in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the heart or limbs. Huguley is only the third hospital in Tarrant County and the first hospital serving Johnson County to use Spectranetics’ laser ablation system, a cool laser designed to eliminate artery blockages and restore blood flow.
“Laser atherectomy is an important option for patients with blocked arteries in the heart or limbs. By restoring blood flow to the limbs, the procedure can improve a patient’s mobility and reduce the risk of amputation. For patients with coronary artery disease, we use the laser to remove plaque and prepare the blood vessel for a stent,” said Dr. Naginder Sharma, an interventional cardiologist with the HeartPlace office at Huguley. Dr. Sharma introduced this procedure to Huguley in 2011, and now it is done routinely in Huguley's cardiac catheterization lab.
About Laser Ablation
The Spectranetics’ laser ablation procedure now available at Huguley is a minimally invasive procedure during which pulsed bursts of ultraviolet (UV) light energy vaporize blockages in the arteries. This energy is transmitted along flexible glass fibers encased in tiny catheters, which can be passed through the arteries right to the location of the blockage. The UV light energy is then focused on the blockages that need to be treated, restoring blood flow.
This minimally invasive laser procedure takes only a couple of hours and the patient can usually go home within a day. The typical patient is back on his feet and able to resume normal activities in about a week.
About Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary arteries are the primary blood vessels that surround the heart and are responsible for providing blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease occurs when the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked by a buildup of plaque (cholesterol or other materials). When the blockage is severe, the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle is reduced, causing chest pain (angina). A sudden and complete blockage can lead to a heart attack.
About Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD), which affects 8 to 10 million Americans, can lead to leg pain, non-healing of wounds on the legs or feet, gangrene, and may even lead to amputation. Those suffering from PAD are at increased risk for heart disease, aortic aneurysms and stroke.
“Nearly 100,000 amputations that happen every year could have been prevented if PAD were recognized and treated immediately. Patients should not be subjected to a life-altering amputation procedure when minimally invasive treatment options including laser ablation exist to restore blood flow to the legs and feet. Many patients can get quickly back on their feet and live pain-free,” Dr. Sharma continued.
The most common symptom of PAD is leg pain after activity, which may range from mild to extreme, and it usually disappears after a few minutes of rest. Other symptoms of PAD include: leg numbness or weakness, leg or foot wounds that are difficult to heal, coldness in one lower leg or foot compared to the other leg, or a different appearance from one leg to the other.
Many people with PAD do not experience symptoms, however. Risk factors for PAD include:
• Over age 65,
• Over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking,
• Under age 50 but have diabetes and other risk factors, which include obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a strong family history of heart or kidney disease.
Early diagnosis and treatment based on individual risk factors, signs and symptoms can improve the prognosis and quality of life.
Naginder Sharma, MD, is a board-certified interventional cardiologist at the Huguley office of HeartPlace. He has extensive training and experience in cardiac catheterization, balloon angioplasty and stenting, techniques of complex coronary intervention, peripheral vascular interventions, sophisticated diagnostic procedures, and many other professional skills. For an appointment, call 817-293-8441.