Device Removes Dangerous Plaque from Arteries

Device Removes Dangerous Plaque from Arteries

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Ed Yeates ReportingAn incredible device that cleans arteries and veins by literally reaming out accumulated plaque is moving into wider and more far reaching clinical trials. Not only does this device ream out the plaque, it stacks it in a miniature storage compartment, then pulls it from the body. How? Let's take a look.

Donna Dowdle has diabetes. Because of cholesterol -- plaque blockage in the arteries and veins of her legs -- her circulation is almost cut off. In fact, the fate is often amputation. But in her case that won't happen.

Donna Dowdle, Patient: "It just shocked me. It really did. I didn't know they could do something like that with the legs."

During our visit, Donna was preparing for a minimally invasive procedure in a cath lab at Pioneer Valley Hospital. Like others before her, physicians simply snake a catheter inside her veins and arteries then begin cutting or shaving off the plaque.

A small cutter about the size of a grain of rice not only shaves a new opening, but stores the removed plaque in a miniature storage area inside the device. When it's full, surgeons simply retract the catheter, pulling the debris out of her body.

Roger Borchardt M.D., Cardiologist, Pioneer Valley Hospital: "When an artery plugs up, it gets larger in general. So as you go in, you can get it to at least its initial diameter, if not larger."

What's neat about this procedure is it's on an outpatient basis. That means for 90 percent of the patients, they come into this cath lab in the morning and they're back on their feet in the afternoon.

Physicians first started using the Silverhawk, as it's called, on mostly leg, kidney, gastric and arm vessels. But its application is widening with clinical trials now on veins and arteries to the heart.

Meanwhile, for Donna...

Donna: "Yeah, I'll be able to walk without my walker and get around a lot better. I won't know how to act."

Again, this new tool shaves and removes the plaque completely, unlike other procedures where a balloon catheter, for example, simply pushes the plaque against the vessel walls.

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