Cold Catheter Technique Opens Blocked Arteries

NEWARK—For more than a year, Florence Davis of Hillside struggled with a persistent wound on her foot and restricted blood circulation in her leg so severe that doctors were considering amputation. Eighty-one years young and determined to keep her foot, Davis sought out the wound care and vascular specialists at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center who applied a new ultra-cold catheter technique to open several blockages in the arteries and save her leg—without surgery.

Davis had one of the classic symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) but was unaware of its seriousness. The pain in her calf muscle became so severe she said, “I would have to stop after walking only a short ways.” Then Davis got a cut on her toe that would not heal—another symptom of PAD. She turned to the Advanced Wound Care and Hyperbaric Institute at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center for help.

Aggressive wound care treatment began, but vascular tests showed three complete blockages in the artery that runs from her hip to her toe. Davis was in constant debilitating pain. Circulation had to be restored, but she was not a candidate for the traditional vascular bypass surgery that transplants blood vessels from a healthy limb to replace blocked vessels.

The wound care specialists referred Davis to Madhu Salvaji, DO, an interventional cardiologist specializing in minimally invasive endovascular procedures and one of only a handful of physicians in New Jersey using the sophisticated Polarcath system that combines angioplasty and cold therapy to open arteries and help prevent future blockages in the same location.

“Cooling the blood vessel down to -10 degrees Celsius as the balloon is inserted in the clogged artery, causes targeted cell death and alters the new cells that will replace them, greatly reducing the chances of a future blockage,” explained Salvaji. Altogether, Salvaji opened three blockages using a combination of cold catheter, stent placement and artherectomy, a delicate process of removing plaque from the artery walls.

“All I had to do was lie still,” said Davis about the three minimally invasive procedures that were performed in stages. Within two weeks, the swelling in her foot disappeared, her toe was healed and she was back to her daily walking, shopping and gardening.

For more information about advanced wound care or treatment for peripheral artery disease at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, call 1-888-SBHS-123.

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