New PAD Procedure Saving Lives, Limbs

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -- Some frightening statistics...60% of people who receive an amputation have never had a diagnostic angiogram to determine if blood flow could be restored. But a new procedure being performed in Region 8 is helping patients who suffer from Peripheral Arterial Disease, or PAD, and it's opening up arteries, offering relief from pain and even giving back mobility.

According to the National Institute of Health, between 8 and 12 million Americans have Peripheral Arterial Disease. It's a life threatening condition where a fatty material called plaque builds up on the inside walls of the blood vessels.

"It's a very common issue that is often under diagnosed and surely under treated," said NEA Clinic Cardiologist Dr. James Ameika.

Dr. Ameika is the first in Region 8 to use the Diamondback 360.  The tiny catheter device is snaked through leg arteries, some smaller than a toothpick.

"It spins very quickly, 150,000 to 200,000 times per minute and actually shaves or sands off the blockage on the inside of the artery opening the blood flow down to the patients feet, which may enable them to heal sores on their feet or enable them to have better blood flow so they can walk and be active," said Dr. Ameika.

Minimally invasive, the outpatient procedure usually has patients up and going in no time.

"It is a new technology that is an improvement on an older technology, so we have a foundation to know how it works but this enables us to extend it to a group of patents and before we were uncomfortable using some of the devices on the small arteries," said Dr. Ameika.

Smoking is more closely related to developing Peripheral Arterial Disease than any other factor.  Smokers have an increased risk of developing PAD by three to five times.