Longview Regional Medical Center (LRMC) is introducing a new medical technology to treat patients of the cardiovascular disorder peripheral artery disease (PAD.)  This will be the region’s first facility to employ Spectranetics’ excimer laser ablation system, which clears artery blockages and restores steady, sufficient blood flow to the legs.  This is the first laser procedure the FDA has ever cleared for the treatment of PAD.
PAD obstructs blood flow into the legs.  Arterial blockage/hardening of the arteries develops when plaque accumulates on arteries’ inner walls.  If left untreated it can develop into Critical Limb Ischemia (CLT,) leading to pain, non-healing wounds on legs and/or feet, and even gangrene, leading to amputation.  PAD patients are also at increased risk for heart disease, aortic aneurysms and stroke.  It is therefore essential for potential sufferers to be aware of the signs and risks so that treatment can commence as early as possible.  Laser ablation is a promising new development in the fight against PAD.
Laser ablation is minimally invasive and works by using pulsed shots of ultraviolet light to vaporize arterial blockages.  Flexible glass fibers encased in miniature catheters carry the energy blasts.

The fibers are threaded down arteries until the blockage is in range of the light rays.
By destroying the blockages this procedure will save many patients’ legs when in the past amputation would have been the only option.  The previous most popular procedure, open surgical bypass, required general anesthesia, surgery and a prolonged recovery period. This new method is much easier, taking only a couple of hours, and patients generally go home in just a day or two and be back to normal activities within a week.  Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Greifenkamp, M.D. is enthusiastic over this new technology which may save 100,000 amputations from taking place annually.
“The patient today has already lost one leg to PAD.  The laser enabled me to treat the blocked areas and regain necessary blood flow so his other leg can be saved,” he said.  “Patients should not be subjected to a life-altering amputation procedure when a minimally invasive treatment option exists to restore blood flow to the legs and feet.  The Spectranetics’ laser ablation system can help many patients get quickly back on their feet and live pain-free.”
PAD afflicts from eight to 10 million Americans.  As many as half may have no symptoms and hence not receive timely treatment.  Another 40% may have non-typical symptoms that do not seem to point to PAD.  Because of these factors most sufferers do not realize they have PAD.
LRMC is a member of the Peripheral Artery Disease Coalition, and the Vascular Disease Foundation.  For more information on the hospital and its work in treating PAD please visit www.longviewregional.com.