Norfolk, VA – March 16, 2004 — What if there was a way to improve on one of the most common treatments for peripheral vascular disease? -- a method both easier on the body and requiring fewer repeat procedures?
Vascular Surgeons at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital say they may have found a way to do just that; a new way to clear blocked arteries that's less traumatic to the blood vessels and appears to have a lower incidence of restenosis, the reclogging of an artery that can require repeat surgery. The technique is called cryoplasty -- in effect, it's angioplasty on ice, an experimental technique that freezes away blockages.
"We’re extremely pleased to be one of only 12 sites across the nation to participate in this limited launch," says Marc Glickman, M.D., Sentara vascular surgeon. "We anticipate the use of cryoplasty will result in a dramatic improvement in the outcomes for our patients."
The cryoplasty launch will involve treatment of approximately 25 patients over the next four months. Sentara’s experienced team of vascular surgeons will be opening clogged arteries using cryoplasty, an experimental technique that uses a balloon catheter and liquid nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, to freeze away blockages.
Cryoplasty is performed in essentially the same way as angioplasty: a balloon catheter is threaded into a clogged artery where the balloon is inflated to compress the blockage and reopen the blood vessel. But the essential difference is that angioplasty uses saline solution to inflate the balloon and cryoplasty uses nitrous oxide, which cools, to a temperature of –10 degrees Celsius, thus freezing and removing the desired cells.
So far preliminary results using the procedure indicate it is gentler on the artery wall than angioplasty, preventing inflammation and scarring, and reduces the need for a stent and appears to have a lower incidence of restenosis, the reclogging of an artery that can necessitate repeat surgery. Candidates for participation in the limited launch must have a referral from their physician.