It is generally accepted in the medical community that drug-eluting stents (DES) are helpful in restoring normal blood flow to the heart. In recent years, however, DES treatment has been applied with proven success in other contexts.
For example, consider a patient with peripheral vascular disease (PVD); an unfortunately common medical condition characterized by the occlusion of the arteries of the legs and arms. This disease is usually caused or exacerbated by other medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. People who smoke are at a much higher risk for developing PVD as well. It has been reported that as many as five million adults in the U.S. have PVD.
Patients with PVD tend to experience a gradual decrease in blood flow to their extremities. Over time, this can result in a complete interruption of blood and the development of necrotic tissue. In the past, once necrotic tissue was present, amputation was often the only available medical treatment.
Recent research suggests that DES treatment may be used effectively to prevent or reverse arterial occlusions in patients with PVD. According to an article published by Modern Medicine, researchers studied 106 patients who were treated with DES to restore blood flow in the lower extremities.
There were no procedural deaths, and 96 percent of the patients were discharged within 24 hours. The researchers found that the three-year cumulative incidence of amputation was 6 percent ± 2 percent, survival was 71 percent ± 5 percent, and amputation-free-survival was 68 percent ± 5 percent. Also, only 12 percent of patients who died had a previous major amputation. The target limb revascularization rate was 15 percent.
This study suggests that DES treatment can be effective at preventing major amputations. If you are facing the possibility of amputation as a result of PVD or another ischemic process, ask your doctor about angioplasty and DES treatment.
Contributing author: Jon Stefanuca