Lights, Camera, Action: New Catheter Lets Doctors See Inside Arteries for First Time

UC San Diego Health first in region to use image-guided, plaque-busting catheter

September 26, 2016  |  

Removing plaque from clogged arteries is a common procedure that can save and improve lives. This treatment approach was recently made even safer and more effective with a new, high-tech catheter that allows cardiologists to see inside the arteries for the first time, cutting out only the diseased tissue. Interventional cardiologists at Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center at UC San Diego Health are the first in the region to use this technology.

image guided catheter

Avinger’s PantherisTM Lumivascular new image-guided catheter with a camera the size of a grain of salt.

The new image-guided device, Avinger’s Pantheris™ Lumivascular atherectomy system, allows doctors to see and remove plaque simultaneously during an atherectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow.

The new technology treats patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of the legs and feet, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching the extremities. Patients with PAD frequently develop life threatening complications, including heart attack, stroke, and in some severe cases, patients may even face amputation.

“Peripheral artery disease greatly impacts quality of life, with patients experiencing cramping, numbness and discoloration of their extremities,” said Mitul Patel, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health. “This new device is a significant step forward for the treatment of PAD with a more efficient approach for plaque removal and less radiation exposure to the doctor and patient.” 

X-ray technology was previously used during similar procedures, but those images are not nearly as clear and do not allow visualization inside the blood vessel. The new catheter, with a fiber optic camera the size of a grain of salt on the tip, is fed through a small incision in the groin that does not require full anesthesia. Once inside, the interventional cardiologist is able to see exactly what needs to be removed without damaging the artery wall, which can cause further narrowing.

PAD affects nearly 20 million adults in the United States and more than 200 million globally.

Luis Martin, a 54-year-old truck driver, recently underwent an atherectomy at UC San Diego Health with the new catheter. 

“I spend hours sitting in my truck driving, which has contributed to my PAD,” said Martin, an El Centro resident. “Before the procedure at UC San Diego Health, I was not able to walk more than a few feet without having to stop for 30 seconds due to the pain in my right leg.”

Mitul Patel

Mitul Patel, MD, cardiologist at UC San Diego Health.

Patel said that Martin had severe scar tissue and plaque build-up at a previously treated site in his right leg, limiting blood flow to his calf muscle and his ability to exercise or even walk a short distance.

“He was a good candidate for the new image-guided catheter approach. The device allowed for excellent visualization inside his leg artery as we removed only the diseased tissue,” said Patel.

X-ray technology was previously used during similar procedures, but those images are not nearly as clear and do not allow visualization inside the blood vessel. The new catheter, with a fiber optic camera the size of a grain of salt on the tip, is fed through a small incision in the groin that does not require full anesthesia. Once inside, the interventional cardiologist is able to see exactly what needs to be removed without damaging the artery wall, which can cause further narrowing.

“I can now walk four to five miles with my wife without any limitations. The procedure has really improved my quality of life,” said Martin. “With some lifestyle changes, I hope to manage my PAD and prevent another blockage.”

Pantheris was approved by the FDA in March 2016. So far, cardiologists at UC San Diego Health have used the new catheter on 10 patients undergoing an atherectomy procedure with successful results.

About El Centro Regional Medical Center
El Centro Regional Medical Center (ECRMC) is an acute-care medical center, serving the health care needs of the Imperial Valley since 1956. In addition to the 161-bed hospital, ECRMC also owns and operates Oncology & Hematology of Imperial Valley, the Wound Healing Center and outpatient clinics in El Centro and Calexico. The outpatient centers provide exceptional primary and specialty care for residents seeking enhanced wellbeing and improved quality of life.

About UC San Diego Health
UC San Diego Health is comprised of UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest and Thornton Hospital, Moores Cancer Center (one of only 41 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the country and the first and only San Diego-based National Comprehensive Cancer Network® Member Institution), Shiley Eye Institute, Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center and Jacobs Medical Center (opening late 2016) in La Jolla, as well as other primary and specialty practices located throughout Southern California. For more information, visit health.ucsd.edu


Care at UC San Diego Health

Cardiovascular Services



Media Contact

Michelle Brubaker
858-249-0456
mmbrubaker@ucsd.edu

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