BACKGROUND: A new non-surgical therapy gently cools and opens leg arteries clogged with plaque, saving the patient from amputation. Essentially "angioplasty on ice," CryoPlasty therapy is now being offered at nearly 800 sites in the U.S., including most major hospitals.
HOW IT WORKS: To open up arteries clogged with plaque, doctors use a technique called angioplasty. The technique works very well, but it causes scarring of the artery wall. In traditional angioplasty, a catheter is used to guide a tiny balloon to the site of the arterial blockage. The balloon is then filled with saline, and this compresses the walls of the clogged artery to open it and allow blood to flow through. CryoPlasty therapy works in much the same way, but it uses nitrous oxide instead of saline to inflate the balloon and then cool it to -10 degrees Celsius. The body then opens the artery. This technique causes less scarring than traditional angioplasty.
ABOUT PAD: Peripheral artery disease is a condition that affects about 10 million people in the U.S. It often leads to severe blockage in the arteries, particularly in the lower leg. Such blockages reduce blood flow to the legs and feet, increasing the risk of infection, leg ulcers, gangrene and amputation. Those with PAD are also more at risk for other cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke.
THE STUDY: Researchers participated in Below the Knee Chill, an ongoing multi-center study at 30 leading hospitals across the U.S. It will test CryoPlasty therapy on 100 patients facing likely amputation of a foot or a leg within six months, due to severely clogged leg arteries.
THE RESULTS: Of the 22 patients studied so far, 100 percent were successfully treated with CryoPlasty: Their arterial blockages were 50 percent or less after CryoPlasty therapy. Eighty-three percent of arterial lesions treated with the technology remained open after nine months
The American Association of Physicists in Medicine contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.