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Memorial Hospital Helps Patients Get a Leg Up on Peripheral Vascular Disease - 8/9/2005

Memorial Hospital patients now have another alternative in the treatment of peripheral vascular disease (PVD)—a painful condition caused by the buildup of fat and cholesterol, known as plaque, which disrupts normal blood flow to arteries in the vascular system. The SilverHawkTM Plaque Excision System is a new FDA-approved device for the safe removal of harmful plaque from blocked arteries in the legs.

The SilverHawkTM procedure involves a tiny rotating blade—the size of a grain of rice—that shaves away large quantities of plaque from inside the artery. As it is excised, the plaque collects in the tip of the device and then is removed from the patient. Similar to angioplasty, plaque excisions are minimally invasive procedures performed through a tiny puncture site.

Prior treatments for PVD included angioplasty, stenting and open bypass surgery—invasive processes requiring larger incisions, lengthier hospital stays and, often, additional interventions. While angioplasty and stenting successfully clear a channel in the artery for blood to circulate, accumulated plaque along the artery walls can creep back into the artery and cause another obstruction.

“With this new technology, we can actually extract harmful plaque rather than compressing it against the vessel wall and hoping for a positive outcome,” says Dr. Scott Hurlbert, Memorial vascular surgeon. “Cleaning out the arteries gives our patients a second chance at regaining their mobility.”

PVD affects nearly 12 million people in the United States. Left untreated, PVD ultimately can lead to amputations, as evidenced by the more than 150,000 PVD-related amputations performed in 2004. Those at risk of developing PVD include patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Other contributing factors include obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. Screening for peripheral vascular disease is simple and painless, and should be considered by anyone who experiences severe pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the leg.

For more information, please contact Memorial Hospital Public Relations at (719) 365-5235.