Eases peripheral artery disease
Patients suffering from peripheral artery disease — a blockage of the leg arteries — now have another option: a specially designed stent coated with a drug that prevents the artery from re-narrowing and restores the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the lower extremities.
Tri-City Medical Center is the only place in the Southwest United States that offers the device, approved in November by the FDA; only two other facilities in the nation perform the procedure using the new stent.
In early February, Dr. Richard Saxon began inserting the specially designed stents into patients at Tri-City Medical Center. The new stent — the Zilver PTX drug-eluting peripheral stent manufactured by Indiana-based Cook Medical – is a self-expanding, small metal, mesh tube whose outer surface is infused with the drug Paclitaxel. The drug, also used in cancer treatments, helps prevent the clogged artery from narrowing again (a condition known as restenosis).
The stents are a welcome option for patients who have found medication, angioplasty, traditional stents, even bypass surgery to be ineffective. While novel now, the new stent will quickly gain traction, much like its coronary counterpart did 10 years ago, said Dr. Saxon, who has been involved for the last several years in clinical trials of the Zilver PTX.
“It means patients who have severe leg pain or non-healing wounds and need arteries reopened have another tool,” Dr. Saxon said.
Steven Janzer of San Marcos was one of those patients who had tried other remedies – exercise, medication and traditional stenting — to no avail. On Wednesday, Dr. Saxon inserted not one, but three of the new stents into Mr. Janzer’s left leg.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have issues with my legs,” said the 61-year-old Janzer. “I feel really fortunate to be involved in a group using a cutting-edge device.”
Mr. Janzer said he’s been healthy all his life. An accomplished designer, he’s eager to return to his job as a kitchen and bath designer at the Home Depot in Vista.
“Needless to say, my hope is to have relief from blockage and that there won’t be a reoccurrence,” he said.
The peripheral stent is particularly helpful for patients with diabetes, who accounted for half of the participants in the trials, Dr. Saxon said.
Typical stents are constructed of bare metal and act as scaffolding for a compromised artery. While effective, they do not last as long as the Zilver PTX stents because they lack the drug coating. Additionally, when a stent is inserted, it causes damage to the artery. The body’s natural response is to heal the area, forming a scar, and triggering a re-narrowing of the artery. The Zilver PTX inhibits that scarring and keeps the artery clear.
Roughly 478 patients were enrolled in a research/clinical trial; at the end of three years, 80 percent did not need another intervention, said Mike Schultz of Cook Medical.
The insertion of the stent is done during an outpatient procedure and a patient typically recovers in a few days.