Lower-extremity ischemia, a type of peripheral vascular disease (PVD), occurs when arteries in the abdomen or pelvis, called the aorta and iliac arteries, respectively, narrow or become completely blocked by the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque deposits. As a result, not enough oxygen-rich blood gets to the legs, causing cramps and pain and making it difficult to walk or exercise. Rarely, the condition becomes so severe that gangrene develops or amputation of the affected limb is necessary.
Until the introduction of the stent, a small metal tube, 10 years ago, the only way to open up such vessels was surgically, bypassing the blockage with a healthy vein or artery.
Increasingly, interventional radiologists are treating the condition with a less invasive stenting procedure, in which a catheter-or thin, flexible tube-is inserted through a small incision in the skin and threaded to the site of the blocked artery. The vessel is pumped open by a tiny balloon, and the stent is inserted to hold open the blood vessel.
"The early results of stent placement suggested that it offered excellent short-term results for treating this condition," said lead researcher Timothy P. Murphy, M.D., associate professor of diagnostic imaging at Brown Medical School. "But long-term results were needed to prove that the stent is a viable treatment option for this type of peripheral vascular disease."
Dr. Murphy and a team of researchers reviewed the records of 365 patients suffering from chronic leg ischemia. Between 1992 and 2001, s
Contact: Maureen Morley
Radiological Society of North America