Drug Coated Balloon Promises to Keep People on Their Feet Longer - Cone Health - Greensboro, NC

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Published on November 13, 2014

Drug Coated Balloon Promises to Keep People on Their Feet Longer

Stevie Gilliam doesn’t take walking for granted anymore. “My leg used to just hurt and swell, even if I walked only a short distance,” says Gilliam. “It got to the point where I didn’t want to walk at all.”

Going for a walk is no longer a problem thanks to a new treatment at Alamance Regional Medical Center. Gilliam was diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease or PAD. He came to Alamance Regional Medical Center and became one of the first people in the state to be treated with a Lutonix® coated balloon catheter. The device was just approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration last month, and Alamance Regional Medical Center was first in the state to use it.

“Peripheral vascular disease happens when a blood vessel in the arms or legs narrows due to a build-up of plaque—much like the process that often happens in the heart,” says Gregory Schnier, MD, board-certified vascular surgeon with Alamance Vein and Vascular Surgery. This reduction in the flow of blood can lead to pain, swelling, numbness in the legs or feet, and leg cramps. One treatment option is to return the flow of blood to the affected leg muscles. “We inflate a small balloon in the blood vessel to push the narrow area wide once more. Sometimes we insert a wire-mesh tube, called a stent, to try and keep the area open. But just like in heart work, we worry about the vessel narrowing again.”

The Lutonix balloon catheter is built to prevent the vessel from narrowing again. It is coated with a medication designed to stop the narrowing that can send patients back for repeat procedures. “The new balloon has the potential to result in fewer interventions, fewer stents and longer lasting interventions for patients with PAD,” says Schnier. “We’re able to provide state-of-the-art care right here close to home for the people in our community.”

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