New Technology Unclogs Leg Arteries


PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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. Now newly-approved technology is providing quick relief to patients, while lowering the risk of side effects.

Sixty-five-year-old Tom Krigar loves his labradors and the outdoors. But until a few months ago, he could barely walk without severe leg pain.

Krigar detailed, “Just grabbed your calf, like you had a muscle spasm. That’s how bad it hurt sometimes.”

Doctors diagnosed Krigar 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 told Ivanhoe.

That’s when Bart Chess, M.D., a vascular surgeon at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, thought Krigar 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. (Read Full Interview)

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,” detailed Dr. Chess.

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

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

“It was like day and night,” said Krigar.

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.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson,  Videographer.





TOPIC:       New Technology Unclogs Leg Arteries

REPORT:   MB #4189


Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs, and limbs. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood. Over time this plaque can harden and narrow the arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen to the organs and other parts of the body. PAD usually affects the arteries in the legs. Blocked blood flow to the legs can cause pain and numbness and it also can raise the risk of getting an infection in the affected limbs. The body may have a hard time fighting the infection. If severe enough, blocked blood flow can cause gangrene (tissue death). In very serious cases, this can lead to leg amputation. Smoking is the main risk factor for PAD.



Treatment for peripheral artery disease focuses on reducing symptoms and preventing further progression. In most cases, lifestyle changes, exercise and medications are enough to slow the progression or reverse the symptoms. Regular physical activity is often an effective treatment, also known as cardiac rehabilitation. It may be slow; simple walking regimes and leg exercise programs can ease symptoms. A diet low in saturated and trans fat can help lower blood cholesterol levels, but medication may also be necessary to maintain levels. Quitting smoking is a must, and some patients are prescribed high blood pressure medications. One treatment for severe cases involves a nonsurgical procedure where a catheter is inserted to reach the blocked artery and a tiny balloon is inflated inside to open the clog.



This new procedure involves a catheter which is actually designed to shave out the areas that are narrow or blocked. Instead of a very large incision, a small puncture is made in the artery and a wire is inserted which allows the doctor to take pictures or the areas that are open or blocked.  As the wire moves through the vessel, the catheter is then inserted to clean out the blocked areas. This new technology and these small tools allow the person performing the procedure to stay within the center of the blood vessel, which really helps in the recovery portion of this new procedure. Less material is left behind, the vessel is more likely to stay open after it is treated and the area will be left less traumatized.

(Source: Dr. Bart Chess)


Doug Braunsdorf



If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Bart Chess, M.D., a vascular surgeon

Read the entire Q&A