Medically Reviewed by Christopher G. Cunningham, MD
Vascular surgeons have added a new tool to their options of opening blocked arteries in the arms or legs. McLeod Vascular Specialist Christopher Cunningham, MD says a major benefit of the Drug Eluting Balloon is its ability to keep the blood vessels open:
Here is a summary of Dr. Cunningham’s comments:
To talk about new developments in treating Peripheral Arterial Disease, one needs to understand what the older treatments were. They’re still very good therapies but this new treatment we’re going to discuss, called Drug Eluting Balloon, is a major advancement that’s very exciting.
If you have a blocked artery, I can either encourage your body to open its own detour for circulation through medication and exercise programs. Or, if the blockage is severe enough, it either can be cleaned out directly with a surgical procedure, bypassed around it with a surgical procedure, or run a balloon up over a catheter wire and balloon open that artery restoring blood flow.
The drug-eluting balloon is a new therapy that’s recently become FDA-approved in the United States for the treatment of arterial blockage disease.
With a drug-eluting balloon, an angioplasty balloon is placed in a blood vessel. When the balloon is blown up it transfers a powerful medication from the balloon to the artery wall, where it needs treatment. One of the problems with traditional balloon angioplasty is that over a relatively short amount of time it might reclog off or scar down. The medication on the drug eluting balloon, called Paclitaxel, is a medication that inhibits cell growth and, therefore, helps prevent arteries from re-scarring and keeps them wider open.
In fact, the results from angioplasty WITH drug eluting balloons are much better than plan old balloons not treated with this medication. Studies have shown that with a balloon angioplasty on any given blood vessel there may be a recurrence rate as high as 55%. Studies with drug coated balloons show that if a given artery is treated there’s a greater than 72% that they will NOT need to treat that blood vessel again.
That is greater than a 20% increase in long-term good outcomes in this treatment that is done as an outpatient procedure. People will come into the hospital and meet the vascular team in an X-ray room. They will have an I-V started to relax them. Using an ultrasound, their artery is entered with a microneedle and microwire, travel around through that blockage and open it with a drug-coated balloon. Typically, the patient can go home 2 hours later, walking better that day. And 48 hours later they’re do to whatever they want.
It’s really a miracle.