New ways to keep arteries open longer and stop leg amputations

24th October 2018 by Daryll Baker0

Peripheral vascular disease or hardening of the leg arteries causes blockages in these vessels. This affects the quality of life of over two million people in the world.  The severity ranges from severe cramping on walking quickly to  leg ulcers and gangrene.

One of the ways to improve the quality of life and reduce the progression of any ulcers or gangrene is to get more blood down to the legs.  This can be done by doing a bypass operation or opening up the blood vessels with an angioplasty, passing a balloon through the narrowing and opening it up.  Unfortunately, often after an angioplasty the blood vessel thickening up and narrowing down again and the symptoms come back.  To stop this narrowing down happening, a stent or spring can be placed into the vessel. A more recent development has been to apply a chemical to the balloon that reduces the the re-narrowing occurring  (that is intimal hyperplasia).

There are now several studies that show that, if the angioplasty balloon is coated with a chemical that can reduce this happening, the lumen of the blood vessel remains open for much longer.  With this new development gradually being introduced into the  day-to-day management of peripheral vascular disease, there is great optimism that the millions of people who suffer from it will be able to walk further and are less likely to develop gangrene.  A nice review article on this has recently been published and can be obtained free by clicking here. Alternatively if you are concerned please consult a specialist.

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Daryll Baker is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital London and Clinical Lead for North Central Region Vascular Services.

He read Medicine at Oxford University and trained in Vascular Surgery in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh. He obtained his research PhD from the University of Wales.


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