Most of us are familiar with heart disease but what do you know about vascular disease? This refers to diseases of blood vessels outside the heart and brain. It's often a narrowing of vessels that carry blood to the legs, arms, stomach or kidneys. I got to watch a surgery in the Cath Lab at the Avera Heart Hospital of South Dakota.
The patient is getting the blocked arteries in his legs cleared with stents and angioplasty. Dr. J. Michael Bacharach is a cardiologist with the North Central Heart Institute. He specializes in peripheral intervention involving the arteries in the legs and kidneys.
Dr. Bacharach says, "The risk factors for peripheral arterial disease are similar to those for coronary disease, things like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Smoking is a significant one worth 3 of the others in fact it's the most important."
The patient is a smoker and has diabetes. He knew something was wrong when it hurt to walk and that's often a warning sign and should trigger a red flag.
Dr. Bacharach says, "We repair this by using a balloon type procedure and start to try and open the artery to make it bigger to allow more blood flow to get down into the legs."
The stents are like scaffolding and hold the newly opened artery in place. Angioplasty uses a tiny medical balloon like structure to push the plaque against the walls to reduce blockage.
Because this procedure is done in the cath lab at the Heart Hospital, the patient is sedated, but not asleep. The two incisions in the groin area are the size of a pin tip and remarkably he will be back to normal activity the next day. You can see the difference in the before and after shots immediately. The surgery itself takes about an hour and because it was done with catheters... the incision is small and recovery and healing time is so much faster.