Research presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 32nd Annual Scientific Meeting shows that angioplasty and stenting can prevent amputation and restore blood flow in the lower extremities of patients with critical limb ischemia and gangrene. The blockages are caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which hardens the arteries, and can lead to heart attack and stroke.
In the study, 47 patients had 81 blockages treated that were below the knee. Sixty-six percent were men with a mean age of 73. The patients had the following risk factors that are also indicative of PAD: smoking history, cardiac history, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity, and hyperlipidemia.
The blood vessels below the knee are more difficult to treat because of their tiny size (3mm) and are more prone to reclog than larger vessels. Angioplasty and stenting, which are nonsurgical interventional radiology treatments, had a 91 percent success rate of keeping the tiny arteries open after 18 months.
"This study shows that with angioplasty and stenting, we can restore blood flow through the smallest vessels in the legs and keep them open long-term, saving these patients from life-altering amputation," said lead author Nael Saad, MD, interventional radiologist, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York. “The long-term clinical results are comparable to by-pass surgery in the leg using a longer, more complex graft, but with a much lower risk of morbidity and mortality."