Saving Limbs and Lives
Advancements in Atherectomy
Thanks to enhanced visual imaging technology, vascular surgeons can now treat diseased blood vessels with greater precision.
Atherectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure performed by a vascular surgeon to remove atherosclerosis (fatty buildup and plaque) from a patient’s blood vessels. When plaque (comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and additional substances) builds up in blood vessels, it causes the artery walls to harden and narrow, which limits blood flow to important organs. Atherosclerosis is commonly caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Left untreated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (a circulatory condition in which narrowed blood vessels prevent blood flow to the limbs).
Today, lumivascular technology (“lumi” meaning “light” and “vascular” meaning “artery”) is allowing interventional physicians and highly trained vascular surgeons to see inside arteries while performing atherectomies – something that wasn’t possible before.
One machine equipped with lumivascular technology is the Avinger Lightbox, whose interventional catheter comes equipped with an imaging modality called optical coherence tomography (OTC). OTC displays real-time images of the diseased arteries on the Lightbox console throughout the atherectomy procedure. Using the imaging, clinicians can more accurately navigate and treat disease. The Lightbox is used specifically to image peripheral artery disease (PAD).
What to Expect from a PAD Procedure
When using the Lightbox as a tool for PAD atherectomies, clinicians will insert the OTC-armed catheter into the diseased artery through a small incision. While inside, the clinician will use the catheter, which features a sharp blade on the end, to collect and remove plaque buildup. The plaque removal procedures are performed under sedation and local anesthesia.
Benefits to Patients
In the past, physicians performing atherectomies had to rely on tactile feedback and x-rays to identify and treat blockages within the arteries. The Avinger Lightbox allows for increased precision and control, leading to improved patient care before, during, and after the procedure.