New Catheter Tested In Phoenix Hospital Helps Unclog Patient Arteries, Save Limbs

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Friday, June 24, 2016 - 7:19am
Updated: Friday, June 24, 2016 - 2:59pm
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(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
Dr. Venkatesh Ramaiah pushes his finger against the camera on the catheter, recreating the surface of an artery.
(Photo by Andrew Bernier - KJZZ)
Pantheris, a pinhead-sized catheter with a camera-mounted rotating cutter.

For millions of Americans, living with clogged arteries can lead to pain and fatigue, particularly in the legs, and sometimes even amputation. A new device being tested at a Phoenix hospital may help clear the way for some patients to live pain free.

Peripheral arterial disease occurs when plaque forms in limbs, like in the femoral artery running from groin to knee. Dr. Vankatesh Ramaiah with Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital in central Phoenix sees it often.

“Our amputation rates have been increasing significantly with diabetes and eating habits and smoking," Ramaiah said. "Picking up the disease at an early stage, treating it aggressively, will eventually lead to limb salvage and therefore saving lives.”

Ramaiah is one of the first doctors in the country to try Pantheris, a pinhead-sized catheter with a camera-mounted rotating cutter. Remotely controlled, it cuts into plaque and captures it.

Jason Winter with Avinger, the company that developed Pantheris, said this design is new.

“It’s not the easiest thing to engineer, mounting a camera on the cutting blade itself, but the goal here is to get the eyeballs on the end of the catheter so that way you’re killing two birds with one stone, you’re imaging three dimensionally and you’re applying treatment at the same time,” said Winter.

Ramaiah said prior procedures included radiation and injected dye to produce an image, which can damage kidneys, and then pushing a wire following the artery image.

“The adoption is going to be fairly rapid," Ramaiah said. "The only limiting factor is sometimes technologies cost a lot of money. And institutions have to be aware not only of the cost but also the benefit of this new technology, because then you’re able to treat more patients more efficiently and more effectively.”

Preliminary use of Pantheris started two months ago with FDA approval.

How It Works

PML0290-D Pantheris Animation from Avinger on Vimeo.

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