Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital is among the first in the United States to offer a new treatment to provide relief for patients suffering from the painful symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD) – a condition caused by a build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow in the arteries of legs or feet.

The device, Avinger’s Pantheris lumivascular atherectomy system, uses real-time imaging on a therapeutic catheter – like having a small camera on the tip of the device. It allows physicians to see and remove plaque simultaneously inside arteries during atherectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting plaque away from the artery and clearing it out to restore blood flow. The device was cleared earlier this month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Pantheris may enable physicians to remove this plaque more precisely, with less risk of damage to the artery walls which can result in aggressive scarring that greatly increases the risk of re-narrowing of the artery. In the past, physicians may have had to rely solely on X-ray as well as touch and feel to guide their tools while they try to treat complicated arterial disease.

For patients, the treatment could reduce the need for follow-up procedures and stents. In addition, the radiation-free technology may help minimize radiation exposure to clinicians and patients by decreasing use of fluoroscopy.

“The Pantheris technology is a significant step forward in the treatment for a costly and deadly disease,” said Dr. Venkatesh G Ramaiah, vascular surgeon at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital.

Peripheral artery disease affects nearly 20 million adults nationwide. Often dismissed as normal signs of aging, symptoms of PAD include painful cramping, numbness or discoloration in the legs or feet. PAD can become so severe and difficult to address with traditional treatments that patients and physicians often resort to undergoing invasive bypass surgeries, which can result in even higher health risks and lengthy, painful recoveries. In severe cases, patients often face amputation.

The addition of the Pantheris technology is part of Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital’s reinvention plan to create a legacy of excellence in cardiovascular care in Arizona and across the Southwest.