What is peripheral artery disease?
Peripheral vascular disease restricts the flow of blood through the vessels beyond the heart. Circulation disorders in these vessels, which carry oxygen and other nutrients to vital organs and tissues, are most often caused by atherosclerosis (also called hardening of the arteries), a progressive disease caused when plaque (composed of fat, cholesterol, and other substances) is deposited on the inner wall of the artery.
Over time, the inside diameter of the artery narrows (called stenosis), and blood flow through the artery is reduced or stopped. Plaque commonly forms in the iliac arteries (lower abdomen) and the femoral and popliteal arteries (legs).
What is peripheral vascular ablation?
Vascular ablation uses a laser to clear, or ablate, arterial blockages and improve blood flow. Laser angioplasty is minimally invasive and performed by threading the catheter through small incisions, usually in the groin area.. A laser catheter emits ultraviolet light to remove the blockage by evaporating the plaque. Ultraviolet light is much cooler than infrared lasers so it reduces the risk of damage to the surrounding tissue.
If there are multiple blockages, the laser catheter is moved from blockage to blockage. Once all the blockages are ablated, the catheter is removed and X-ray contrast dye is injected into the blood vessel, allowing the surgeon to evaluate the results of the procedure.
Additional balloon angioplasty may be undertaken at this point. The laser angioplasty procedure generally takes one to two hours followed by one to two days of recovery in the hospital for most patients.