New technology helps in fight against artery disease

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COLUMBIA - University of Missouri Health Care is the first hospital in the state to utilize a new way of combating peripheral artery disease (PAD).

Dr. Todd Vogel is the first surgeon in the state of Missouri and one of the first in the country to use the new technology.

"In the past, we couldn't see inside the artery, and now with OCT, or optical coherence tomography, and with that we can see inside the artery and work on the inside," Vogel said. "So while looking inside, we're shaving and cleaning the artery, which is a relatively new concept."

MU health care and the American Heart Association said PAD affects more than eight million Americans, and most of those with it can be unaware of how serious it is.

Vogel said the disease can be brought on by a number of factors.

"PAD is the process where the arteries begin to clog up and basically it's from cholesterol, hypertension, history of smoking and also family genetics," he said. "When the arteries block up, they don't get enough flow, and so when you walk your legs will cramp, sometimes you'll have pain at night and you may have the inability for example to walk, especially on flat surfaces. So if you notice your legs are hurting or feel heavy, that may be a sign you have PAD."

Vogel said PAD could turn into a very serious problem for some.

"Since you have blockages in your arteries, PAD can be a marker for heart disease and coronary heart disease," Vogel said. "The worst case scenario, if you leave PAD untreated, is that you can have enough blockages that the flow to your leg leads to tissue loss, gangrene and possibly amputation."

Vogel said the new technology makes it easier on patients.

"Now, patients that would've had an open surgery to bypass around blockages, we can actually see inside the artery, drill through it, clean it out and then they don't need surgery," Vogel said. "So the procedure we have, patients come in and leave on the same day. The patients are awake during the procedure and they don't have post-op follow up like a surgical patient would do, and have to stay in the hospital three to five days."

Vogel said he thinks the technology used in PAD procedures could end up being helpful in other areas of surgery as well.

"I think any kind of procedure that deals with looking inside or getting through arteries, it could be very useful, or any round structure, it allows you to get inside and look around."